How useful/usable is Standard German in southern Bavaria, outside of Munich?

How useful/usable is English in southern Bavaria, outside of Munich?

  • Any Bavarian can understand Standard German, and most can try hard to speak something similar. At tourist spots, you can get by with English as long as you talk to staff. Don't expect random strangers to know English.
    – Janka
    Commented Jan 2, 2023 at 23:07
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    But also don't expect random strangers to not understand English.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 13:54
  • "and most can try hard to speak something similar" Wow, what disparagement.
    – Paul Frost
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 16:58
  • @PaulFrost The statement is as much or as little disparaging as the fact it describes is considered disparaging by the speaker or the listener. I remember that when I was about 10, our family was in the Bayrischen Wald on vacation. We were lodging in a private household renting out rooms. They were great hosts. The grandparent generation lived under the same roof and we developed a cordial relationship with them. I had a hard time understanding the grandmother, so I asked her in all innocence to please speak Standard German (Hochdeutsch). She looked at me and exclaimed "But I am!" Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 17:47
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    @PaulFrost From conversations with friends I know that Northern Germans have a hard time understanding Southern Germans or Austrians on the phone, were the non-verbal channels are unavailable and lip-reading is impossible. I had situations where I could not properly understand business partners who were trying hard to speak Hochdeutsch. Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 17:51

1 Answer 1


All the media in Germany are in Standard German (Hochdeutsch), so every Bavarian will be able to understand it. Almost all Bavarians will also be able to speak it, some with a more or less heavy accent (Färbung).

Most Bavarians/Germans also speak some English, because everyone learned it in school, and many need it in their professions nowadays. Their Hochdeutsch will be better than their English on average. Those who speak Hochdeutsch with a heavy accent will tend to also have a heavy accent in English.

People working in tourism will most likely speak and understand English fluently.

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    Note that this holds true not only for Bavaria, but the whole German language region, from Bremen to Vienna and from Berne to Stralsund. Only the accent will differ.
    – PMF
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 8:21
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    "everyone learned it in school" - only since 2006 it is a compulsory subject in all schools. SInce 1955 it is a compulsory subject in "Mittelschulen" and "Gymnasien". So do not expect that all older people speak English.
    – Paul Frost
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 17:11
  • @PaulFrost Quick googling told me that it was compulsory in Haupt- und Mittelschule in West Germany from 1964 on. I can't verify if that's true. In the GDR, people learned Russian instead of course, and after reunification, many went to the west, including Bavaria. So yes, "everyone" is to be taken with a grain of salt here.
    – HalvarF
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 17:21
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    I would dispute this sentence: "Those who speak Hochdeutsch with a heavy accent will tend to also have a heavy accent in English." At least here in Austria, many people speak Standard German with a stronger accent than English. I ought to know because I am one of them: When I speak English, I pay attention to speaking in an accent similar to that of a native speaker; when I speak Standard German, I know people will understand me just fine despite my accent, so I do not try to imitate northern Germans at all.
    – wonderbear
    Commented Jan 3, 2023 at 18:38
  • @wonderbear Good observation. I (as a Swiss) have made large trips around northern Germany, and most of the people there immediately identify my accent, while I wouldn't even know how to imitate theirs. I only notice the difference when I hear other people use Swiss Standard German.
    – PMF
    Commented Jan 4, 2023 at 9:41

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