How to Speak like a True Berliner

Uncovering the German of Berlin
Uncovering the German of Berlin | © Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay
Megan King

In most language schools across Berlin, you can be sure you’re learning ‘Hochdeutsch,’ also known as high German, or the standard German. As one language teacher put it, even after making deep inroads into grasping the German language, you still might not understand a word when confronted with the evolving dialect of a real Berliner.

“Do you speak German?”

The bottom line is that wherever you go in Germany, you’ll be faced with a specific dialect that your high school German class probably hasn’t prepared you for. We won’t even get started with the Bavarian accent and dialect, which has been joked about as the German that even Germany doesn’t understand! That said, we can help you wrap your head around some of the idiosyncrasies of the Berlinisch tongue.

Berliner’s love their city

Any native German can spot a Berliner just by how he or she talks. When Berlin was still a divided city, the GDR considered the Berlin dialect – which was spoken in the former East of the city – a ‘cultural asset’ and promoted its preservation. For that reason, you might find it less prevalent among younger people from the former West Berlin.

For Berliners, Alexanderplatz is simply called ‘Alex’

It’s very useful to be able to know who you are, and possibly the most easily recognisable difference in Berlinisch is the changing of ‘ich’ to ‘ick’, which means I. The usual, soft ch- sound becomes a firmer k- sound. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase ick bin ein Berliner?

Another thing to look out for is the pronunciation of virtually all g sounds as j instead. Apparently it is also an enormous effort for Berliners to pronounce some of the German diphthongs, specifically ‘au’ which is rather said as a long o- sound. Both these quirks can be applied to the word ‘gut,’ meaning good, which sounds a lot like ‘yoot’.

Another tendency for Berliners is to replace the -s of many common words with another letter altogether. For instance, ‘das’ often becomes ‘dit’ and ‘was’ becomes ‘wat’.

German dialect changes significantly depending on where you are in the country

Finally thought: always remember that when expressing your crush on the city itself, you will exclaim, Berlin, ick liebe dir! Instead of the Hochdeutsch version, which says ich liebe dich.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article