What is the difference between parlieren and sprechen? Both mean to speak, but when is parlieren used? Can it be another term for reden?

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    Es parliert sich besonders gut beim Flanieren.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 9:40
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    I'd strongly recommend not to use "parlieren", because as non native speaker you are almost sure to get the conmnotations wrong. If you need a word for "chatting" or "small talking", use "plaudern".
    – Ingo
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 11:30

4 Answers 4



Is an all-purpose verb when talking about using your mouth for communication ;) As you can see in the Duden (Reden) it has numerous examples of use. I think the best translation for "Reden" is "To Talk".

In contrast to the word


it is a neutral verb, which means that it does not imply a positive or negative form of valuation like "blabbering", with at least implies a less important kind of talking.


First of all, "Parlieren" is very antiquated and may sometimes be used in written language, but only in very rare cases in spoken language. As far as I'm concerned, I have never heared someone use "Parlieren".
The probably best translation for "Parlieren" is, equivalent to its latin origins, "To Chat". But today it is also often used for "To Blabber", which implies a less serious form of talking with each other.

Nonetheless, I would recommend to use "Sich unterhalten" or (the less serious version) "Schwatzen" instead of "Parlieren", because these words are more commonly used.

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    Whether schwatzen is used commonly may depend on where you are, just like schnacken :) Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 9:26
  • Meine Freundin aus Hamburg sagt immer 'schnacken' Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 9:45
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    “Quatschen” hier.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 9:57
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    Since parlieren (which comes from French) is ever only used by the "intelligenzia" I think explaining it as "blabbering" is misleading. Parlieren is NOT a derogatory word for chatting. It is having a civilized discussion about a light topic.
    – Emanuel
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 10:58
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    parlieren = plaudern. Synonyme: babbeln, schwatzen. Quelle: duden.de/rechtschreibung/parlieren
    – Jbartmann
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 11:49

The loanword "parlieren" (from French "parler") is well established in elaborate code. It is used mostly in a cultural or political context for

  • giving a touch of irony when people are chatting away.
  • conversations in a foreign language.

Despite it being an old verb already known in medieval Middle High German it is reaching some popularity recently.

Examples of usage:

Entspannt sitzt Christine Bortenlänger, die Chefin des Deutschen Aktieninstituts, in ihrem Büro, ihr Tonfall ist aufgeräumt, während sie gestenreich parliert, und immer wieder ist auch ihr Lächeln herauszuhören. Zeit Online

Das Ganze auf Französisch, vorgetragen wie eine bedeutende Zeile aus einem französischen Literaturklassiker. Er weiß, dass allein die Ansprache die Wirkung nicht verfehlt. Und wenn sein Gegenüber aber nun kein Francais parliert? Spiegel Online

Weisband erklärt darin in jener bilderreichen, altmodischen Sprache, mit der sie sich seit nunmehr eineinhalb Jahren wacker durch sämtliche deutschen Talkshows parliert, wie sie sich das politische System Deutschlands vorstellt. Sueddeutsche

Die Sprachen der Mode? Italienisch. Französisch. Englisch. Deutsch? Eher nicht. Zu sperrig, kantig, verkopft. Deutsch ist die Sprache der Ratio. Die Emotio hingegen spricht Italienisch, die Coolness Britisch, die Eleganz parliert en français. Zeit

  • I really like the examples, they are very helpful
    – Armunin
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 11:53

parlieren is a very old word from the 13th century (Wiktionary).
I can't remember to have heard that word in any conversation. It may be used when speaking in a linguistic context.

  • Ich parliere mit Dir über Gott u. die Welt. - That works right? Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 9:08
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    I have also never heard or seen parlieren in use before today. While your example sentence might be clear enough from context, it's generally not in common use. It might have survived in some regions in colloquial and dialect use, but other than that I'm not aware of any. tl;dr: use "sprechen" or "reden", or if you want a more informal term "plaudern" or "schwatzen" (cf. wiktionary or any other dictionary) Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 9:21

I put it straight off: parlieren is not used in conversations.

This statement is actually already covered in the other answers but with reservations (i.e. it may be used in some dialects). But many (if not most) Germans will not even be able to understand the word (as they don't know French and thus never heard of parler). (Side note: They will also not see the relation to Parlament where things are discussed[=speak, talk])

Well, what about quotes in newspaper? Yes, there are quotes for any word which is part of the German language. Even for those words that occur least. So, there's also a chance of encountering this particular word when reading newspapers (but only in those that claim themselves being 'sophisticated'). Again, the pure existence of a word does not prove its viability (=by which I mean that it is commonly used or understood).

So, to answer the question "When is parlieren used" in a harsh manner. In respect to spoken languages, the answer is plain: never.

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