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Today, I entered a bakery here in Munich and asked for "zwei brezn, bitte." I do not remember the exact German reply I got, but it translates (according to the baker) to:

I'll give it to you if we have it.

She explained to me that this is a Bavarian joke and her usual answer. To make sure that I had understood correctly, I asked if I was supposed to have laughed, and she confirmed.

What phrase is it likely that she used? The only word I'm completely sure that it contained is wenn somewhere in the middle. Note that I'm not just looking for a translation of the English phrase, but for the joke/rejoinder that is allegedly common in Bavaria.

Bonus question: How was that supposed to be funny?

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are you sure the translation was "if" rather than "when"? –  Oliver Giesen Jun 9 '11 at 2:11
    
@Oliver pardon my ignorance, but don't if and when translate to the same word in German? –  cwallenpoole Jun 9 '11 at 6:22
    
@cwallenpoole : Strictly speaking no: they should translate to "falls" and "wenn". In actual use however, it is quite common to use "wenn" instead of "falls"... which then gives occasion to numerous jokes and misunderstandings... –  Oliver Giesen Jun 9 '11 at 6:53
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@Tim You really should add some more information, even an approximate phonetic transcription would help. –  Phira Jun 9 '11 at 8:04
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nice story! PS: you sound a little like Sheldon Cooper from "The Big Bang Theory": "To make sure that I had understood correctly, I asked if I was supposed to have laughed, and she confirmed." –  splattne Jun 9 '11 at 9:04

2 Answers 2

Just a guess: I'm translating it back to the Bavarian dialect:

I geb's eana, wenn ma's hom.

or

Wenn ma's hom, geb i's eana

Dialect words:

  • eana = Ihnen
  • ma's = wir es
  • hom = haben

I think it's not supposed to be funny in an intellectual way, but just a phrase that was meant to cheer up people a little.

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I asked my boyfriend who's from Bavaria and he didn't have the slightest idea. ^^

I don't think it's a "common saying", but rather something that bakery lady usually says.

The joke about is is probably neither very good nor easy to explain. ^^ I think it circles around the customer's confusion it creates for a second (as one doesn't expect to hear a denial). So it's probably more a banter than a joke.

I can imagine (or might even have heard) this dialogue outside Bavaria:

"Guten Tag, ich würde gern eine Packung ... kaufen."

"Na, dann schauen wir mal, ob wir noch eine da haben."

It's only a cheering-up, meaningless saying, but you would be supposed to smile in return.

Guess this proves the theory of Germans not knowing any small talk utterly wrong. ^^

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