As we know from here "Grüß Gott!" is a "Bavarian thing," not implying anything more than a type of "hello."

How do non-Bavarians respond? An acquaintance from northern Germany likes to say "Wenn Du Ihn siehst!" ("when you see Him!"). Are such responses common? Or is this only meant in jest and to remind a non-native speaker that Bavaria and Germany are not one and the same?

  • 4
    Recognition of it as salutation is quite wide-spread; the typical answer in the far North is Guten Tag perfectly delivering the same reminder. – guidot Mar 15 '17 at 16:49
  • 8
    In Baden-Württemberg "Grüß Gott" is very common, too. – Iris Mar 15 '17 at 16:54
  • 5
    When I'm in Bavaria or BW: "Grüß Gott". When I'm somewhere else where "Grüß Gott" isn't common: "Guten Tag". Never jest, that's really impolite. – dirkt Mar 15 '17 at 17:10
  • 6
    Actually "Grüß Gott" is rather like "Guten Tag", then like "Hallo". I think "Hallo" (the rather informal salutation) is "Servus" in Bavaria, "Grüß Gott" is rather formal. – jonathan.scholbach Mar 15 '17 at 17:22
  • 2
    In an elevator upwards you might say "So weit hoch wollt ich nun auch wieder nicht" – PlasmaHH Mar 16 '17 at 9:16
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I’m a Bavarian in Prussian exile and have been here for the last four years. I’m proud of my Bavarian-ness and thus keep my dialectal speech and regionalisms. Thus, in these four years I have always used Grüß Gott when speaking to people I would use Sie towards — except for early mornings or late evenings when I would have used (Guten) Morgen or Abend in Bavaria, too.

The most common responses have been (in no particular order): ‘Moin’, ‘Guten Tag’ (or ‘… Morgen’/‘… Abend’) and ‘Hallo’. In the whole four years I have had exactly one instance of the answer ‘So weit komme ich heute nicht mehr’ — and the lady in the bakery had already sold me bread quite a few times (and recognised me).

So to answer your question: most non-Bavarians recognise Grüß Gott as a greeting and reply using a greeting.

The question cannot be answered, because the underlying assumption in the question

How do non-Bavarians respond?

that a person's behavior can be sufficiently be characterized as "non-Bavarian" in this question, is just not valid. The response on "Grüß Gott" is more a matter of individual style, preferences and character.

For example: In talks with unknown counterpart, I tend to copy the behaviour of my partner. So, if someone says "Grüß Gott", I respond "Grüß Gott", if someone says "Moin", I respond "Moin", if someone says "Servus", I say "Servus" and so on.

But for sure there will be people who find it important to mark their own origin and their own standard and always respond in the way they are used to in their group, their region, etc.

And there will be people who adapt to the region the conversation actually takes place - so in Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg they might respond with "Grüß Gott", and in - say - Hannover they respond with "Guten Tag".

The following is written in reaction to the comment of rexkogitans: These three examples are just examples. There may be many other reasons why people respond in the way they respond. It can be a matter of habituality. Or some people might refuse to answer "Grüß Gott" because they are atheists and have a problem in responding "Grüß Gott". There are as many differents reasons as people are out there.

  • 2
    good point, but I would not say "There will be people who find it important to..." but rather "who are more used to..." For example, I am Austrian (so also Bavarian dialect by mothertongue); if a north German says "Moin" to me, I respond with "Seas", but just because "Moin" is not my way of greeting althought I understand it. This is also true the other way round. – rexkogitans Mar 15 '17 at 21:07
  • @rexkogitans Well, I just wanted to name a few examples of different attitudes. Of course there can be many other reasons, why people answer in the way they are used to. Actually, that's exactly my point: People are very different and there is no answer which would apply to all. – jonathan.scholbach Mar 15 '17 at 21:09
  • 4
    +1 especially for your opening point. It'd kind of be like asking, in the USA, how do non-Texans respond to "Howdy!" – BruceWayne Mar 15 '17 at 22:02
  • 1
    @BruceWayne how do non-Texans respond? I can't recall the last time I heard "Howdy!", so I'm not sure what I would say. Maybe as stated in this answer, respond in kind with "Howdy!" or "Grüß Gott!". – Ðаn Mar 16 '17 at 13:34
  • @Ðаn - Yeah, usually it'd be just a "Hello", or whatever greeting the person is used to saying, nothing necessarily special (perhaps they also respond with "Howdy" since it's rarely used an can be seen as "fun"? haha). ...followed by "Are you from Texas?" Perhaps "Howdy" is a little more specific than "Grüß Gott"....It kind of "places" where you're from, but otherwise is understood just as a greeting. – BruceWayne Mar 16 '17 at 13:58

The other answers already imply that "Wenn du ihn siehst!" isn't a polite answer and suggest polite alternatives. I will focus on another aspect. But I have to note that I have often heard "Wenn ich ihn seh'" (yes, it is common if you know each other already slightly) and never "Wenn du ihn siehst", the reason wil become obvious.

"Grüß" from Grüß Gott is often interpreted as an imperative of grüßen because grüße! can be shortened to grüß'!. So the answer "Wenn ich ihn seh'!" is meant to correct the person who saluted first, because you let him know that it is impossible for you to greet god (i.e. you could as well answer "How would it be possible for me to greet God?" german "Wie könnte ich Gott grüßen?"). So it is a wisenheimer answer and is indeed intended to remind the southern german/ swiss speaker that he doesn't speak proper High German and is probably meant to be funny.

However, it is wrong. Grüß Gott is not an imperative, but is shortened from grüße Sie Gott (greet you God), so that not you should greet God, but God should greet you (and -- I guess -- bless you). The wisenheimers answering with wenn ich ihn seh'! show that they don't know this.

  • 1
    Properly understanding Grüß Gott as "God's greetings (or blessings)" makes much more sense as a salutation than "[You] greet God". Thanks for the grammar. – Ðаn Mar 15 '17 at 22:02

Grüß Gott is no only used in Bavaria, but in Austria too. The answer to this salutation is just again Grüß Gott. No matter if you are Bavarian or not.

If you feel uncomfortable with this salutation, you can also answer with

Guten Tag

or any other salutation you like. And this is again independent of the region you were born. There are also people in Bavaria and Austria who don't like to say "Grüß Gott". Most of them say "Guten Tag".

Se also: Polite alternatives to "Grüß Gott"?

  • 4
    @Prodnegel: For one, you could feel uncomfortable with using an idiom that is not native to you; perhaps you feel presumptious, adopting something that is not "yours". Also, some people want to avoid the religious connotations of the idiom, on general terms or in a specific situation. – DevSolar Mar 15 '17 at 20:15
  • 3
    @Prodnegel: Because of the reference to God, I would presume, however secular this greeting may have become. – Ingmar Mar 15 '17 at 20:40
  • 3
    @Prodnegel: »Grüß Gott« is a short form of »Es grüße dich Gott«, which is in English »May god greet you«. But many people in Europe are atheists (like me). Atheists do not believe in god, so why should they wish someone, that god should greet them? I grew up in a region, where »Grüß Gott« is a usual salutation, and that is why I use it too. But I would feel better, if we in Austria would have a tradition of another salutation. – Hubert Schölnast Mar 15 '17 at 21:27
  • 1
    @HubertSchölnast, I am Agnostic but used to be Atheist, and never found myself to be uncomfortable participating in God referencing practices such as the "Pledge of Allegiance", etc...but it is good to know that others do. Thank you – Prodnegel Mar 15 '17 at 21:33
  • 3
    @Prodnegel, because it refers to a god, there are no gods, there are still people who justify their acts and moral values with the existence of gods, and one does not want to be implicated in this. Good answer, by the way. – Carsten S Mar 18 '17 at 1:52

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.