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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

German word of the day: Gell

If you’re planning on heading to south Germany, Austria, or Switzerland, you’ll be certain to hear today’s word of the day in almost every conversation.

German word of the day: Gell
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

It can be frustrating when you are feeling confident with your German skills, only to travel to a certain part of Germany and be confronted with words you’ve never heard before. 

If you find yourself in South Germany, Austria and Switzerland, for instance, it will be impossible to avoid the word gell

It will almost always be heard at the end of a sentence and pronounced with rising intonation (ie. as a question).

READ ALSO: 15 Bavarian words you need to survive down south

The most obvious English equivalents would be ‘right?’ or ‘isn’t it?’. In German, some more widely spread equivalents include nicht wahr? or oder?

When a speaker uses this particle, they’re often looking to see if the person they are speaking to agrees with the statement they have just made, or to see if what they have said is correct.

It can also be used if you are seeking to invite someone into a conversation or encourage their input. 

Gell is just one of many regional variations used across Germany. In northeast Germany (including Berlin), you’re likely to hear wahr (often shortened to wa) instead, while the particle ne is more common in the northwest, but used all around Germany.

Example sentences:

Schönes Wetter heute, gell?

The weather’s nice today isn’t it?

Ich hab’ dich gestern im Supermarkt gesehen, gell? 

That was you I saw at the supermarket yesterday, right? 

Die Suppe war wahnsinnig lecker! Das hast du selber gekocht, gell?

The soup was super delicious! You made it yourself, right? 

 

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

Austrian word of the day: Beisl

This is a spot you might visit at the end of the working day - or Feierabend - particularly in Austria, as Germany has a different word for these establishments. Here's what this Austrian-German word means and how to use it.

Austrian word of the day: Beisl

Why do I need to know Beisl?

Because you may be invited to one or need to find one on the map.

What does it mean?

Das Beisl, which sounds like this, is the name for a pub or inn in Austrian German where people gather to drink beverages. In Germany, it is usually called a Kneipe.

This isn’t a fancy cocktail bar – it’s a neighbourhood watering hole and forms part of the make-up of towns and cities across Austria. It’s usually unpretentious, often small and used to be very smoky before Austria banned smoking indoors.

The term comes from the Czech “pajzl”, which means pub or dive. It’s a diminutive short form of the noun “hampejz” – with meaning such as “dog house” and even “brothel”.

Other possibilities for its origins include the Yiddish bajiss (house) , and the Austrian dialectal diminutive of the word Beiz – which was a low-class pub until the word got a better reputation.

Nowadays, the Beisl are usually friendly and charming and give an insight into life in Austria. So perhaps ask your Austria friends for a tip on a cool Beisl to visit. Just don’t expect the staff to speak English at all – or take credit cards.

If you’re hungry, keep in mind that Beisl usually doesn’t serve food or at least no hot dishes.

How to use it:
Treffen wir uns am Freitag nach Feierabend im Beisl.
Let’s meet in the pub on Friday after work finishes.
Ich gehe mit den Jungs ins Beisl.
I’m going to the pub with the lads.

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