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Old 14.10.2021, 21:28
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"per du"

So, who else has been caught out by this?

Me, twice, once when I arranged to meet a bunch of arriving PTT clients at the Grimsel pass to take them to lunch in Ulrichen, and at Faido when we stopped for fuel the big boss says "OK, now we are all 'per du'". Alas, I didn't realize that it was a lifelong thing, so THE VERY NEXT DAY I had to respond to a question, and I started with 'Herr Direktor' and was cut off and read the riot act. We still cot the contract.

Second, was by a guy that I had only ever spoken English with, for 20 years! Anyway, some months after the death of Steve Lee, I ran into Marc Lynn, whom I had known since '92 as neither of us spoke Italian at that time, so we would always hang out and speak English. ANYWAY, I gave him my condolences in German, and he bitched at me for using Sie! Now, how can we be 'per du' if we only speak English?

Tom
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Old 14.10.2021, 21:34
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Re: "per du"

Maybe do it in French, then per Sie is quickly perdu.
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Old 14.10.2021, 21:45
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Re: "per du"

I’m always surprised at myself that after having been here so long (1986), I often now cringe if I am a new client, and the ‘service provider’ (for example accountant) automatically goes per Du without having first received my permission!

I feel quite uncomfortable going per Du with a German speaker that I have known for years as per Sie - and my German grammar gets all suddenly screwed-up when speaking to them
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Old 14.10.2021, 21:54
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Re: "per du"

Have most companies now gone to the automatic "per du" with other employees?
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Old 14.10.2021, 21:56
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Re: "per du"

I still feel uncomfortable with du/Sie but the last couple of years, I generally use du when I'm not sure. Before I always used Sie in such situations.

What I really don't understand is "Du" (with capital D). Seems to be some weird hybrid semi-formal thing.
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:01
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Re: "per du"

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I’m always surprised at myself that after having been here so long (1986), I often now cringe if I am a new client, and the ‘service provider’ (for example accountant) automatically goes per Du without having first received my permission!

I feel quite uncomfortable going per Du with a German speaker that I have known for years as per Sie - and my German grammar gets all suddenly screwed-up when speaking to them
My thing was that when the big-boss (one of the regional directors of the then PTT) said it at a gas staion in Faido that it was a lifelong thing!

Also, as Marc and I had only spoken English normally, we were never 'officially' 'per du'!

So, if you speak English to a Swiss German, are you automatically 'per du'?

Lessons learnt.

Tom
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:10
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Re: "per du"

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I still feel uncomfortable with du/Sie but the last couple of years, I generally use du when I'm not sure. Before I always used Sie in such situations.

What I really don't understand is "Du" (with capital D). Seems to be some weird hybrid semi-formal thing.
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
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:11
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Re: "per du"

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So, if you speak English to a Swiss German, are you automatically 'per du'?

Tom
If you call him by his first name in English, then it's "du".
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:15
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Re: "per du"

when i'm unsure in italian i try to make siete work as long as possible. it removes the problem.
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:18
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Re: "per du"

Ah, as a francophone I thought you meant you were 'perdu'!

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

'faire schmolitz'?
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:18
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Re: "per du"

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If you call him by his first name in English, then it's "du".
Never knew that, thanks!

I used to know several directors of my previous company in the late '80s on a first name basis, but we only spoke English, but also for them they were used to USians being less formal.

Tom
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:19
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Re: "per du"

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My thing was that when the big-boss (one of the regional directors of the then PTT) said it at a gas staion in Faido that it was a lifelong thing!

Also, as Marc and I had only spoken English normally, we were never 'officially' 'per du'!

So, if you speak English to a Swiss German, are you automatically 'per du'?

Lessons learnt.

Tom
Using first names presumes a “du“ in my experience. Was it that?
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:23
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Re: "per du"

When I speak with my MD, I vouvoie him if it's professional, and tutoie him if private.

Tom
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:24
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Re: "per du"

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If you call him by his first name in English, then it's "du".
Yeah, it can seem pretty insulting if you’ve looked each other deeply in the eyes over a prosseco or beer toast, and muttered the words - please do call me “Mxxxxxx”. And then you’re Sie’d the next day - it’s as if you’ve forgotten that persons first name
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:43
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Re: "per du"

Du used to be offered by the higher ranking person to the lower (or, since this is an old-fashioned concept, by the woman to the man). This is because it is opening the door from the formal to an greater level of intimacy and closeness, so no younger person may be so presumptuous as to claim that right. It would be like calling your former school-teacher by their first name, or the Queen just "Elizabeth" or "Lili". Fine only if the senior person initiates it (like Tom's senior-ranking client).

However, in many languages, this border is shifting, perhaps thanks to the '68 generation, or under pressure from English or from travel, or from multiculturalism where we don't know whose rules apply anyway, and just reach easy approximation of cultures in English. In the Netherlands, for example, a person who is now aged 80 might, in their childhood, well have used the formal to address their parents. Nowadays that is unthinkable. In Switzerland, 40 years or so ago, it was not uncommon for neighbours in a block of flats to be per Sie. Nowadays, being neighbours often counts as sufficient communality to be per Du.... but still it is the established residents who teach the newcomers that "we're all per du here". Other than in a village where everyone knew everyone, it was, but is no longer, unusual and a priviledge to be per Du with the barman.

The shift isn't complete, yet, so that there is sometimes a mix, for example, with guests in a casual or medium restaurant, and the staff, with more Du and less Sie if they are of similar age or "cool".

Strictly speaking, when someone offers Du, one has the right to refuse it, but I have only once ever seen that done. Having accepted, one has agreed to the new modus. In any event, reverting to Sie when Du has been offered, is considered impolite. It either means, as ZuriRollt wrote, that you've forgotten the person or can't be bothered to remember their name (or forgotten the intimacy, or the invitation to be per Du), or that you regret it and want to re-create distance (like if you slept with a work colleague where you know you ought not to have), or that you are angry and want to sever the relationship (e.g. if someone is leaving a working relationship that turned sour).
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:46
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Re: "per du"

With my neighbor, of 31 years, it's still 'lei' and family name.

Tom
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:47
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Re: "per du"

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With my neighbor, of 31 years, it's still 'lei' and family name.

Tom
If you got a new neighbour, though, now, wouldn't you initiate the informal?
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:48
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Re: "per du"

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Yeah, it can seem pretty insulting if you’ve looked each other deeply in the eyes over a prosseco or beer toast, and muttered the words - please do call me “Mxxxxxx”. And then you’re Sie’d the next day - it’s as if you’ve forgotten that persons first name
We were usually well imbibed!

Tom
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Old 14.10.2021, 22:48
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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?
No, we barely speak to them, just like in the US!

Tom
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Old 14.10.2021, 23:19
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Re: "per du"

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.
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