German Slang

One of the most commonly used slang words in Germany is “Ciao”. While this word comes from the Italian language, I heard many native Germans use it to say good-bye. Upon speaking to a young German man and woman, I learned that it was a slightly cooler version of saying bye that was especially popular in southern Germany due to the proximity to Italy. Both of them used the word quite often, especially among their friends. The word is much less formal and easier to use than “Auf Wiedersehen”, which I have only heard a few times so far. The middle-aged individuals that I spoke with used “Ciao” much less often. They fully understood its meaning and used it occasionally, but preferred to use the more traditional German good-bye “Tschüss”. In my experience, the overall usage of these two words is about 50/50, and their meaning is essentially the same.“Ciao” is a strong representation of Germany’s diverse culture and relationship with surrounding countries. 

Another slang word that I have seen constantly is “Semmel”. This word confused me a lot during my first week or so. I was corrected when I attempted to order a roll at a local bakery with “Brötchen”, the word that I had learned in class. A salami sandwich turned out to be a “Salamisemmel” instead. Thankfully, talking to a few locals helped me to clear up the confusion. Neither age nor gender made any difference in the understanding or usage of the word, but where the individual had grown up was crucial. Two of the people I spoke to had grown up in the Munich area, and used “Semmel” 100% of the time. This seems to be typically in the entirety of Southeast Germany. The other people I spoke to had grown up in the Hannover and Berlin areas, respectfully. Both of them fully understood the word “Semmel” and used it while they were in Munich. However, they had each grown up using “Brötchen”, the word that I had learned. The woman from Berlin told me that they occasionally used the word “Schrippe” as well. No one seemed to know why Munich used a different word, but it didn’t appear to have any variance from the more traditional words used in other areas of the country. Either way, I plan on exclusively using the slang word “Semmel” for the remainder of my time here.