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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ample Prefix

austrian german honorifics herr professor dr. dr. can get ridiculous

After overwhelming feedback, I changed this comic from Germany to Austria. I guess they're just more formal down there...and more supervillainous.

25 comments:

  1. I know quite a few Professors and Doktors who insist on NOT being called with their titles. Those Germans that insist on honorifics are a special kind. Even worse are the wifes of doctors and such who think they married the title and insist on being called "Frau Doktor". But from a German point of view, it's the Austrians who are extremely proud of titles of all kinds, not the Germans.

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  2. Yeah, I've got to agree with Mr Anonymous above--it's not at all unusual for someone with a doctorate to be called "Mr So-and-So" in Germany, even in a professional context. The real difference between German and North American academic culture is the way even close colleagues in Germany address each other by last names (with either 'Mr' or 'Dr' depending on how formal the situation is), whereas North Americans tend to use first names among colleagues you've known for more than five minutes.

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  3. I for my part can agree to this one, because my grandfather decided that the title is a part of a name and has to go on the gravestone of my father... Which indeed looks quite unnatural and somehow stupid...

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  4. A lot of people do insist on this - and it is even the law. While a doctorate isn't part of the name it is treated similar and can also be added to legal IDs (passport, ID card).

    In fact this is the main reason for a lot of people do strive for a doctorate, especially extroverted people with (potential) jobs where this may impress. Obviously: Politicians. Most doctorates aren't done for academic effort or because they are needed for the career directly.

    My grandmother insisted on adding it to the gravestone of her husband also.

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  5. But do you add more Dr.'s as your title if you have more than one doctorate? Isn't one Dr. enough?

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    1. I have seen even honorary doctorates added. My boss has "Prof. Dr. rer-nat. Dr. Ing- Habil Dr. hc." written in his office's door. However, I must say that everybody in the team calls him "Bernahrd" (only the undergrads call him Prof. LastName) and he is ok with that.

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    2. Yes. Those people who insist on their title insist on ALL their Dr.'s. Not only on their door (that's just standard of the university) but you actually address them as "Herr Dr. Dr. Schmidt." (you do not add "phil/ med/ rer-nat/ h.c." etc though.)

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  6. Malachi is a jewish name

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  7. You should visit Austria some day. Just saying, no specific reason ...

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    1. So many people have suggested this, I'm tempted to change the comic to Austria...

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    2. True story from ~8 years ago: I was working for an IT outsourcing company on a project for a German bank. When creating a login on their homepage there were 3 options for the form of address: Herr, Frau, Dr. (Mr, Mrs, Doctor)
      When that bank expanded into the Austrian market the Austrian version of that website stayed mostly the same, but some details were adapted to the Austrian market. One of these things was adding 9 more options to that dropdown box.
      The website has changed during these 8 years, but the dropdown box still exists: Herr, Frau, DI, DI (FH), Mag, Mag (FH), MMag, Dkfm, MBA, Dr, DDr, Prof.
      That is: Mr, Mrs, Master of Engineering, Same but studied at an FH instead of a university (US college vs university? Not sure if it's similar), Magister(?) (what is this, I don't even), Same but from an FH again, Double-Magister(?), German MBA, English MBA, Doctor, Double-Doctor, Professor.

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    3. What do they do when someone is a Double-Doctor Double-Magister Master Wizard of German Engineering? HUH??

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    4. Yes, Austria is much worse (or strict) in this regard. Some blame it on the abolishment of nobility titles after World War I (in Germany the titles stayed as parts of the name) but I don't believe that. The Titelhörigkeit (~ title obedience) is older in my opinion; it derives from the centuries when Vienna was de facto (and later de iure) an imperial capital, all the time when the Habsburg family provided the German (up to 1806) and later Austrian (1806-1918) emperor. Against all those nobility ranks (ein Erzherzog hier, ein Baron da, they were everywhere, and don't forget the military ranks) the civil society developed a fondness of academic and professional ranks as counterweight. And that stuck.

      If someone has different degrees you take the highest from each category (e.g. academic Bachelor - Master - Doctorate, only Dr.). If he has several of the same category you need to use each (Dr. Dr.). If he has different degrees from different fields in the same category you need to use each (e.g. Dr.phil. Mag.iur.).

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    5. That's fascinating, if needlessly complicated. I hope somewhere it helps someone do something.

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    6. One day, have a look at the "title" list for the British airways loyalty club sign up page (http://www.britishairways.com/travel/execenrol/public/en_gb?campaignCode=ABOUEC) I always wondered why "Baron" and "Viscount" are listed but not the higher layers of nobility. Perhaps they don't fly British Airways?

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  8. Yeah, more Austrian than German. Austrians insist on titles below a doctorate - you get addressed as "Herr Kommerzienrat" or "Herr Ingenieur" for the respective variants. Germans like their doctorate, you can put it in official documents as part of the name. Everything below doesn't really count.

    Germany, the rule is to drop all titles except for the highest one if you address someone. Exception: introductions, letterheads and addresses. So a German would maybe insist on being called Prof X, but not Prof X.

    The official moniker for double doctorates is DDr, triple DDDr. Everything beyond (how is this even possible?) is Dr. mult.

    The older I get, the more I enjoy this stuff. No everyone-calls-me-by-first-name bullshit for me. How I envy the japanese with their multiple politeness levels...

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    1. I never heard nor seen the "DDr" and "DDDr" notion. I doubt it is official in any way.

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    2. Haven't seen DDDr but DDr is official.

      My vet is a DDr. She did a Dr. in vet.med and then did a Dr. in human med for fun. So she's not "just" a double PhD (where in German you always end up explaining that you're "not that kind of doctor" because PhDs are also called "Dr" in German) but a double "real doctor". Quite amazing lady. And jup, she's in Austria, but we pet owners get away with calling her just "Frau Doktor", we don't need to call her "Frau Doktor Doktor". ;)

      Ok, to be fair, even here in Austria you don't use DDr. in spoken form. And the younger generation are a bit ashamed of flounting their titles as blatantly as the older folk but everybody makes sure to mention their title when they go to see eg. a medical doctor or a lawyer or have to deal with bureaucracy in some way. It gets you better service.

      And - I'm not sure if it's still like that but until a few years ago you actually *had* to have your Dr. title put on your ID card and passport. You *could* put your Dipl.-Ing/Magister (Master's degree in engineering/other fields like, eg. economics) if you wanted but if you had a Dr. it was mandatory to put it there.

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    3. DDr. is completely unknown in Germany, an Austrian speciality. Two countries separated by a common language. In Germany you can say (or write) "Dr. mult.".

      You are and never were obliged in Germany to put the Dr. on your ID. So when someone uses it you actually know he wants to actively boast. The doctorate is and was the sole academic title that can be added to the ID - no higher (or, behold, lower) degree or position like Mag. or Prof. has this legal speciality.

      Sorry to tell you a truth about your vet but their "doctorates" are doctorates by name only. In Austria you get the degree "Doktor" after a studies that lead to a Diplom (Master) in medical fields. It is legally a Diplom (even in Austria) but called "Doktor". So what she achieved is not comporable to a "real" (double) doctorate.

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  9. * That should have been: not Prof [all lower titles] X. My angle brackets were swallowed.

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  10. Oh and good for changing the comic to Austria. This is really so, so us - made me smile hugely!

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    1. Yeah the response was overwhelming. I know when I'm beaten

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  11. "dott. ing. gran. ladr. di gran. croc. lup. mann."
    Reminded me of this
    http://imgur.com/pkQCTJu

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