How to sound like a Berliner

How to sound like a Berliner - speak like a true Berliner

Let’s be honest, nobody particularly likes tourists. So the sooner you blend in, the more a city and its inhabitants will open up to you to show all of its hidden gems. Same goes for the coolest city, Berlin where using a bit of local Berlin jargon will be much appreciated! We asked our local Berliner staff for some proper Berlin dialect advice to teach you how to sound like a Berliner. 

Ich bin ein Berliner
Outperform John F Kennedy and know that the German pronouns ‘Ich’ is pronounced ‘Ick’ in Berlin and it’s ‘Berlina’ instead of Berliner. So say ‘Ick bin Berlina’ and you’ll earn some local credits instantly.

One for the road
When you’re visiting the German capital for the first time, you’ll have to get used to the ‘Wegbier’. Literally drinking a beer on your way to your next destination. On your way back to the hostel after a day of sightseeing? A Wegbier! On your way to the cinema? A Wegbier! You won’t end up in jail, because we’re used to drinking one (!) in public.

Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof
Our favourite German saying of all times! Berliners don’t like whiners. City life can be tough but you have to suck it up best you can. So whether your favourite bar doesn’t let you in or the girl you really liked is just not that into you, Berliners will hand you a locally brewed beer bottle and say ‘Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof’. Life’s not a pony farm…

Born in a barn, a church or the S-bahn?
Were you born in a barn? Goes the English saying if you leave a door wide open. “Were you born in church?” is the Dutch way of asking the same. A Berliner will ask you if you were born on the S-Bahn. It’s because the S-bahn is the public train and it’s where doors close automatically. So when someone screams at you “Bist du in der S-Bahn geboren oder was?” it’s time to close that door behind you…

G for Y
Switch G’s for J’s and you’ll sound a lot more local instantly. So for instance ‘ganz toll’ (super cool) becomes ‘Yanz toll’. And when someone asks you how you’re doing, you don’t reply ‘gut’ but you say ‘yoot’.

No fuss
The hardest part about learning German is distinguishing between the dative and accusative and between the articles (die, das, der). Lucky you if you’re practicing your German in Berlin because the Berliner themselves are famous for mixing them up loosely and won’t blame you if you do the same. So don’t worry about the grammar details and speak freely!

Don’t be an Alki!
You don’t want Berliners to call you an ‘Alki as it’ is slang for people who drink excessive amounts of alcohol, ‘alcoholics’.

Be an Atze!
And you do want them to call you an ‘Atze’. It’s a good friend, a mate or a buddy belonging to the same group or gang.

Practice your new slang on our Berlin staff at the Amstel House and we’ll let you in on some new local lines. So book a room at Berlin’s friendliest hostel and we’ll teach you how to sound like a Berliner!

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