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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?

  • are you sure the translation was "if" rather than "when"? – Oliver Giesen Jun 9 '11 at 2:11
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    @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
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    @thei: I think it was something along the lines of "Ich gebe dir wenn wir haben". I'll buy more brezels at the next opportunity, for science. – Tim Jun 9 '11 at 9:15
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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 think it's not supposed to be funny in an intellectual way (...)" - very true, even though I'm from Germany, I would never call this a "joke". It may be a way to bridge a short moment while she is looking for the appropriate products without boring her customer (by stating something obvious such as: "I am searching for it right now.") – O. R. Mapper Apr 10 '15 at 6:42
  • I wonder if it would have been something along the lines of "ih dats eana scho gebm wann ma's hom dat'n" or some other convoluted phrasing in the tradition of Karl Valentin - which would explain the humorous intention. – Marakai Feb 10 at 9:02
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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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In clarification of my comment, I will add the purely speculative possibility that the bakers woman gave a variation of the famous Karl Valentin quote

"Mögen hätt ich schon wollen, aber dürfen hab ich mich nicht getraut."

Very rough translation would be

"I would have wanted to like to, but I didn't dare to be allowed to."

This the lady could have turned into some humorous variation related to whether she would be willing to sell the pretzels if she had them.

Without actually hearing what she said, it will likely remain a mystery.

  • No, the Valentin quote is very commonly uttered in cases where somebody is unable to do what you request/expect. I assume that OP was able to get the Brezn which means the Valentin quote would be entirely out of context. Especially since phrases such as Wenn i’s find would also work perfectly without implying Valentin. – Jan Feb 21 at 9:47
  • @Jan possible. with the distance of time and without knowing more of the context I wouldn't say one way or the other. We never learned whether the OP indeed did NOT get his pretzels - because they were sold out of whatever. Therefore the vendor would have indeed been unable to do what he expected (as your wrote). I was born and raised in Bavaria and for that it was the first thing that came to mind. – Marakai 2 days ago

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