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What is the difference between "Tschüss" and "Servus"? When do we use each?

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    Servus can be said to say Hi; Tschüss always means good bye. – Bernhard Döbler Jan 8 at 2:30
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The main and most important difference is the region where these salutations are used. »Tschüss« is mainly used in northern regions, »servus« in southern regions (Bavaria and Austria).

Beside this there are also other differences:

  • »Tschüss« is only used as a good-bye. You use it only when you leave. You don't say »tschüss« when you meet. But »servus« can be used when you meet and when you leave.

  • German has two honorable forms to address other people:

    • »Du« for children, members of your family and friends.
    • »Sie« for strangers, officers, senior figures etc.

    »Servus« is only used when are »per Du«. There even have been cases when people had to pay penalties when they said »servus« to police officers. (This is extremely rare, but it did happen.)
    »Tschüss« on the other hand seems also to be used among people who are »per Sie«. I do not live in a region where people say »tschüss« (I live in Austria), but when I visited northern regions of Germany, I noticed this usage, and to me it felt very strange to be greeted with this salutation from strangers (shop assistants, bus drivers etc.).

The word »servus« is a old latin loanword. It means servant. When you use it as salutation it is used in the meaning »let me be your servant«. There is also an outdated German salutation »Stets zu Diensten« (always at your service) and in old Viennese cafés you still sometimes can hear the salutation »g'schamster Diener«. This is Viennese dialect, in Standard German it would be »verschämtester Diener« (most bashful servant).

The word tschüss was created in the early 20th century in northern regions of Germany from »atschüs«. »Atschüs« was imported from the Wallon language in the 17th century. Wallon »adjuus« means the same as french »adieu«: »with god«. It is used in the sense of »may god be with you«.

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    In English it's possible to say "at your service" when being introduced (or when introducing yourself), though I think this is usually limited to fantasy novels. For example in "The Hobbit" the dwarves introduce themselves with something like "Dwalin at your service!" – RDBury Jan 8 at 2:08
  • Good answer, but I'm not happy with the statement that Tschüss is mainly used in northern regions. At least the "northern regions" reach almost to the south: atlas-alltagssprache.de/r10-f17ab/?child=runde According to the map (and my own experience) "Tschüss" is common in Germany except the south. It is also rather uncommon in formal situations (see map), at least it would indicate some level of familarity with clients or business partners – Sentry Jan 8 at 15:07
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    @Sentry: Die von dir selbst verlinkte Karte belegt ganz klar: Die Grenze zwischen »tschüss« und »nicht tschüss« verläuft (wenn man von vereinzelten Ausreißern absieht) von Stuttgart über Würzburg nach Dresden. Das bedeutet, dass diese Grenze ziemlich genau durch die Mitte des deutschen Sprachraums geht und ihn in zwei annähernd gleich große Teile teilt. In der nördlichen Hälfte des deutschen Sprachraums sagt man vorwiegend »tschüss«, in der südlichen Hälfte verwendet man andere Begriffe. – Hubert Schölnast Jan 8 at 22:19
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    @HubertSchölnast Du schreibst "northern regions of Germany", aber Stuttgart ist eben schon Süddeutschland, nicht Mitte. Die einzigen beiden Bundesländer in Deutschland, wo "Tschüss" nicht das gebräuchlichere ist, sind Bayern und Baden-Württemberg, nördlich davon ist aber nicht gleich Norddeutschland oder nördliches Deutschland. Die Grenze verläuft also laut Karte zwischen Mittel- und Süddeutschland. Nimmt man den deutschsprachigen Raum, sieht das natürlich anders aus, vielleicht liegt hier das Missverständnis. – Sentry Jan 9 at 15:05
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    @Sentry Hubert zog keine Grenze zwischen Nord- und Süddeutschland sondern bezog sich auf die Regionen, in dem die deutsche Sprache zu finden ist. – harper Jan 10 at 18:22

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