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  #21  
Old 14.10.2021, 22:33
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Re: "per du"

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I am old enough that I use "per du" for everybody. If they complain I tell them they are welcome to use the Sie form to me.

My Swiss wife really does not get it and is uncomfortable when I am per du with my dentist, house doctor, members of the Gemeinderat and such although they do du back.
Similar here... Though it's usually because I forget about the per du / Sie thing, and my default mode just seems to be "per du," in conversation.

With English being my mother tongue, I guess my brain just doesn't want to switch into that mode of having to distinguish between formal and informal before my thoughts manifest as words. It's not instinctive for me, and don't we often just speak to someone, in conversation, without first thinking much about what we're going to say or how we're going to say it, beforehand?

Anyways, thankfully, no one has ever really seemed to mind here. Perhaps the only exception was my son's primary school teacher (grades 1 to 3), but she basically always acted like she had a stick up her bum anyways.
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  #22  
Old 15.10.2021, 07:49
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Re: "per du"

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Yeah, it’s the Neue Deutsche Rechtschreibung, introduced a few years ago. Here an example, described by Duden:

“ if you have agreed with your boss on the familiar form of address, i.e. "Duzen," you could now ask him by e-mail: "Have you signed the pay slips yet?"

But be careful: although this spelling is completely correct according to the Duden dictionary, it comes across as less distant than the capital "Du."

Our tip: Stick to the upper case for business contacts and only use the lower case pronoun "du" in private.”

So, du is not just du
When I was taught German in the early 90s, which would I think have been on the cusp of the spelling reform we were taught to use Du when writing letters, which has sometimes crossed over into emails. That would align with the link you’ve quoted, but I don’t think it is related to the reform.
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  #23  
Old 15.10.2021, 08:50
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Re: "per du"

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Now, how can we be 'per du' if we only speak English?

Tom
Thee, thou, thyself, thine, thy etc. As in
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Don't thee "thou" me, thee "thou" thyself and see how thee likes it!
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  #24  
Old 15.10.2021, 11:52
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Re: "per du"

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Du used to be offered by the higher ranking person to the lower

My first German teacher constantly drummed per Sie/per du etiquette into us, telling us over and over that a foreigner will always be in a lower position and so should use per Sie in all situations.

She went so far as to say that if we had to cut corners while memorizing verb forms, skip the 'per du' because foreigners will rarely need it.

And of course, if by some lucky chance we were ever to find that holiest of grails, a Swiss friend, we should never offer per du, that would be shockingly presumptuous. We should wait for the Swiss person to do so, as befitting our lower status.

OK, in hindsight it's clear that this teacher was a bit old fashioned and probably more than a bit bonkers, but back then she was my only window into Swiss culture and so I had no reason to doubt her.

---

Twenty some years on I still find social norms around per Sie/per du something of a minefield. Just can't shake the worry over inadvertently giving offense.

---

My circle of friends is largely international and for the most part we speak English together. Still, I have been surprised when we switch to German. People I consider good friends may use per Sie... but then maybe we all had the same bonkers German teacher.
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  #25  
Old 15.10.2021, 13:13
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Re: "per du"

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For the Romands residents among us, do you know the expression

'faire schmolitz'?
Especially in rural areas, when people feel you 'belong' and ready for the 'tu' - the question might be 'alors on s'tutoye', or the proposal 'on pourrait se tutoyer, non!' but more often or not

'alors, on fait schmolitz?' - which means to link arms, face to face, and drink at the same time at l'apéro. Then you are part of the 'gang' and community.
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  #26  
Old 15.10.2021, 14:05
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Re: "per du"

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I am old enough that I use "per du" for everybody. If they complain I tell them they are welcome to use the Sie form to me.

My Swiss wife really does not get it and is uncomfortable when I am per du with my dentist, house doctor, members of the Gemeinderat and such although they do du back.
Alternatively, you could use your age privilege by complying for the moment, but pretend to have forgotten about that the next day when reverting to Du.
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  #27  
Old 15.10.2021, 14:56
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Re: "per du"

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Twenty some years on I still find social norms around per Sie/per du something of a minefield. Just can't shake the worry over inadvertently giving offense.
IMHO the best way to deal with is by being open about it.

It's the same with forgetting someone's first name. The other can't help but notice, and everybody's been in the same shoes many times over. The sooner that gets cleared up and makes room for the relevant stuff the better.

In the cases of some companies (Tom's PTT, also SBB and others), parts of company culture are a remnant of the struggles from a century and more ago when our ancestors fought for the employee rights people still enjoy - some got literally shot dead in the process (-> LandesStreik). The movement's roots were socialist/communist, it was still alive in many people's minds until perhaps a couple decades ago, so everybody was considered a comrade or tovarish (you see that still in Germany for example, a speaker of the SPD is pretty much obligated to address the listeneres with "Liebe Genossinnen and Genossen"/dear comrades).

When Tom's bigwig deigned to declare Duzis (an impossibility in itself as it requires consent thus, strictly speaking, he turned it into a massive affront by removing the pleb's agency) thereby lowering himself to the common man's level, Tom's fauxpas had the potential of destroying that fake cameraderie. Hence the stern reprimanding, another impossibility if there weren't clear (and steep) hierarchies in place.
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  #28  
Old 15.10.2021, 19:16
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Re: "per du"

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Have most companies now gone to the automatic "per du" with other employees?
I don't remember ever hearing "Sie" used in the office here, at whatever level. Different story in the office in Germany though.
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  #29  
Old 15.10.2021, 19:41
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Re: "per du"

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I don't remember ever hearing "Sie" used in the office here, at whatever level. Different story in the office in Germany though.
At my last company UBS (now happily retired since 15 days), we had a really lot of Drs. in my immediate environment.

Although the “Dutzi” culture was in-place - and no one cared whether anyone had a doctorate or not - as the business language was English, you still needed to be really careful with the Sie or even Dr with some of the more conservative ‘Drs’ that had real problems with it in past years.

My immediate boss was a Prof. Dr. (ETH), but he couldn’t have given a damn. We were a team of 4 for several years, and the subject never even came-up.

But in Germany, I have noticed that it can be very different still.
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  #30  
Old 16.10.2021, 20:14
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Re: "per du"

We had elderly neighbours whose surname was Doktor. The husband was also a retired MD - so they were officially Herr Doktor Doktor and Frau Doktor Doktor. Thankfully we were on first name terms - but how we laughed anyway.


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At my last company UBS (now happily retired since 15 days), we had a really lot of Drs. in my immediate environment.

Although the “Dutzi” culture was in-place - and no one cared whether anyone had a doctorate or not - as the business language was English, you still needed to be really careful with the Sie or even Dr with some of the more conservative ‘Drs’ that had real problems with it in past years.

My immediate boss was a Prof. Dr. (ETH), but he couldn’t have given a damn. We were a team of 4 for several years, and the subject never even came-up.

But in Germany, I have noticed that it can be very different still.
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  #31  
Old 16.10.2021, 20:25
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Re: "per du"

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We had elderly neighbours whose surname was Doktor. The husband was also a retired MD - so they were officially Herr Doktor Doktor and Frau Doktor Doktor. Thankfully we were on first name terms - but how we laughed anyway.
Last boyfriends Dad in the UK (quite a while ago) had been knighted by the Queen - he had to suffer the term „Sir Dick“ from all of us for years (his name was Richard)
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  #32  
Old 17.10.2021, 08:34
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Re: "per du"

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Last boyfriends Dad in the UK (quite a while ago) had been knighted by the Queen - he had to suffer the term „Sir Dick“ from all of us for years (his name was Richard)
When I worked in Zurich in the 90’s my wife’s then boss ( she was his executive pa at the time )invited us both one Saturday evening for dinner at his mega-villa on the gold coast.
He had two Dr titles and was a professor to boot.
After being introduced to his wife ..who I then gave in Swiss German the whole ‘ nice to meet you Frau Professor Doctor Doctor Schmidt ‘ she just gently smiled and said ...Frau Schmidt will suffice...
She was an ex-Swissair flight attendant and was fortunately not in the least worried about formalities.
The professors Stellvertreter however..who was German..had only one Dr title but would according to my wife fly into a rage if any junior colleague did not address him or his wife in what he deemed to be the correct terms.
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  #33  
Old 17.10.2021, 10:13
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Re: "per du"

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If you got a new neighbour, though, now, wouldn't you initiate the informal?
Only if you are the older one. This is serious stuff! I have known people to leave their job over it. Back in the day, I was involved in the merger of two well know at the time, Swiss companies and one of the culture changes was the need to use first names etc... a few people I knew decided to find jobs else where as they were very unhappy being referred to by their first name.
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  #34  
Old 17.10.2021, 10:43
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Re: "per du"

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...After being introduced to his wife ..who I then gave in Swiss German the whole ‘ nice to meet you Frau Professor Doctor Doctor Schmidt ‘ she just gently smiled and said ...Frau Schmidt will suffice...
She was an ex-Swissair flight attendant and was fortunately not in the least worried about formalities.
The professors Stellvertreter however..who was German..had only one Dr title but would according to my wife fly into a rage if any junior colleague did not address him or his wife in what he deemed to be the correct terms.
This wife using the husbands titles thing is something I simply refuse to follow. Your titles should be earned yourself and not married in to.

Fortunately, the Swiss usually don't worry about that, at least my end of the country. Austrians can get quite sticky about it though.
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Old 17.10.2021, 11:21
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Re: "per du"

I was surprised some years back that often in big international companies- first names only are used and teams often don't know the surnames.

One of our daughters worked on a big international project in Germany, backwards and forwards from London for 2 years. On the last day, the team leader, from Canada- told her that she had done a brilliant job and that if she ever wanted to work in Canada, she just needed to contact him and he would find a top job for her on his team. He handed her his business card- and her eyes almost fell off! Same unusual surname as her mother (moi) - from the same Commune and same wide family! He had emigrated to Canada as a young man, just as I had emigrated to UK ...They had worked for 2 years together using first names only, and had NO idea.
He got in touch and we shared a lot of interesting information.
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  #36  
Old 17.10.2021, 12:32
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Re: "per du"

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Same unusual surname as her mother (moi) - from the same Commune and same wide family! ...
They had worked for 2 years together using first names only, and had NO idea.
He got in touch and we shared a lot of interesting information.
Oh, the world is truly a funny place!
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  #37  
Old 17.10.2021, 12:41
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Re: "per du"

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Only if you are the older one. This is serious stuff!
There's always been a certain conflict in the rules about seniority, and who has the right/duty to initiate going "per Du". I was taught that the rules are:
  • The older one.
  • The one with the higher rank.
  • The one who's been here longer (and who knows how things work, here).
but in all cases,
  • The woman (meaning that a man could initiate per Du only with another man).

Clearly, that's long gone, especially the gender aspect. Just as the shift towards the informal is definitely happening, so, too, is a shift in the rules. And it's a bumpy road with some embarrasment, in some situations, for some people. Nowadays I think that it's more likely to be
  • The one who's been here longer (and who knows how things work, here - which is why, where I live and how I work and in the working places of most of my friends, newcomers are welcomed by everyone per Du, irrespective of age, gender or professional titles. And when I was in hospital I observed that all the doctors, nurses and cleaning staff spoke to one another per Du).
  • The one with the higher rank (but only where the gap is significant, not just a regular pecking order).
  • The older one (if at all, then only if the age difference is at least a full generation).
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  #38  
Old 17.10.2021, 13:06
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Re: "per du"

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Similar here... Though it's usually because I forget about the per du / Sie thing, and my default mode just seems to be "per du," in conversation.

With English being my mother tongue, I guess my brain just doesn't want to switch into that mode of having to distinguish between formal and informal before my thoughts manifest as words. It's not instinctive for me, and don't we often just speak to someone, in conversation, without first thinking much about what we're going to say or how we're going to say it, beforehand?

Anyways, thankfully, no one has ever really seemed to mind here. Perhaps the only exception was my son's primary school teacher (grades 1 to 3), but she basically always acted like she had a stick up her bum anyways.
You realise you are old when you start speaking per Sie with people your own age....
Though I have to say it is in my instinct to use "Sie", "Ihnen" etc with everyone I don't know well, even with those who are obviously much younger than me. Or have just a formal relation (not work colleagues, mind).
I must have shocked a couple of teens here.
Where I come from it is a question of politeness and respect, and you owe respect to everyone regardless of their age, profession, social status etc. I always disliked and considered it bad manners and bad character when people got too "familiar" with others they considered less than themselves.
Things are a bit different here, most people are much more less formal than in my homecountry.
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  #39  
Old 17.10.2021, 13:34
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Re: "per du"

We are not alone with this problem of "familiar" and "formal" forms of address :
(Ger.) https://www.tagblatt.ch/leben/du-ode...zis-ld.1576722
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