Germany's regional dialects form a baffling smorgasbord of linguistic variety. Mapping the nation’s wild ways of greeting

© Golden Cosmos

Germans can be sticklers for greetings. You’ll get away with Guten Tag and Auf Wiedersehen in most parts. But these expressions are quite formal. So never greet club bouncers in any city by saying Guten Abend. They might not let you in.

What’s more, German greetings differ from region to region. Saying Hallo and Tschüss is perfectly fine up north. But in Bavaria, these very same greetings are considered rude.

One school director in Passau even banned them, insisting that students use the Bavarian greeting Grüß Gott (something along the lines of God bless) and the formal farewell Auf Wiedersehen (until we see each other again).

Other forms of greeting underline the north-south divide as well. The word Moin actually means "morning" in northern dialect. Locals from Bremen to Hamburg use it to say hello at any time of day or night. But you’ll quickly be labeled an oddball if you use this term to greet a southern German - especially if you do so after lunch.

This article was excerpted from ZEIT Germany 1/2018. Click here to read the entire issue in PDF format for free.