Casual ways to adress people in German

I'm posting this in English so that I can get more feedback, but my native is Spanish and I can't perfectly gasp the subtleties of English, so I'm sorry for my broken English and any unclear thing I can write! :D I initially thought of writing this in Spanish so that I could explain myself better but I'd probably get fewer replies, if any, lol


Soooo, I was wondering about ways to adress people when you meet (not when you've just met). Be it your friend, the nice sales clerk of the grocery shop of the corner, etc. I've been reading bits here and there, and I'm familiar with words such as Schatzi, Liebling, etc. but I guess those are super cute and familiar, right? I still don't get the context where they can actually be used! I know it's better not to use them if you're not 100% sure, and in any case it would be better to 'test the waters' before saying something wrong.


In Spanish culture, there's some words like 'cariño', 'guapa', 'niño' which are widely used to adress people, just in general.


-¿Qué te pongo, <em>guapa</em>?(you can be called [email protected] whether you're beautiful or not, anyway, compliments don't hurt huh? :D)

-Póngame dos magdalenas de esas de chocolate, por favor.


-¿Me pones dos lonchas finitas de emmental?

-Lo siento <em>cariño</em>, ya no me quedan más.


Mind that one is not necessarily close to that people, and they do not intend to sound ironical. I wouldn't think that bald baker in his 50's is flirting, either. They are smiling while saying that and it just feels comfortable and cozy. No feelings involved. They are being nice and I doubt anyone here in Spain would feel awakward when being adressed with such words.


My attempt of the German version would be something like 'Hallo, meine schöne, was darf's sein?' / 'Es gibt leider keinen Käse mehr, meine Liebling' but I feel that's absolutely wrong? Anyone to confirm my suspicions?


Also I would perfectly hi someone I'm good friends with with a "hola, guapa". It shows affection; no more, no less. It's not intimate or something you could only tell to someone you're really close to. It's fairly casual, indeed. No possiblilty of misundersanding.


I would love to use that kind of words in order to sound more fluent in German, but I'm afraid of making mistakes or offending someone, so I just hold myself back and try to be as 'standard' as I possibly can. But that's not languages's aim, right? They are made to express feelings but I just feel that anything coming out my mouth will sound rude or unrespectful because of cultural differences? Any thoughts on this?


I still have a lot of questions about German culture that I'll be soon posting.


Thanks in advance for anything you can share :-) 

Aug 8, 2014 12:34 PM
Comments · 2

Thanks for your answer, Sebastian, it was clear and concise. I'll follow your advice and remain within the limits. I'm not disappointed (hmm, maybe just a little bit), I guess learning German implies getting 'the German attitude' as well. It's all about time that I start understanding you guys! ;p I probably didn't explain myself well; it's not that we like flirting (even though I guess we do). When we address people in such a way, as stated above, it happens to be something genuine, natural, with no intentions, just like smiling or touching someone's shoulder (which is certainly considered a lack of respect in other cultures). Otherwise, I wouldn't really smile back to that bald baker.

August 8, 2014

As a German person I can confidently say Schatzi and Liebling are reserved for your girlfriend/boyfriend. Special cases exist, for example a very close friend you want to tease with those words. NEVER to a stranger!


In general I have disappoint you: Germans simply don't flirt as much as you guys. We are also not very comfortable with strangers talking to us. I would recommend to simply address people by their name or just say Hi. You will do just fine.

August 8, 2014