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Old 06.01.2011, 11:15
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Culture Question - Names & Titles

Hi Everyone,
I have a question about using titles when addressing someone. I have read that people use Frau, Herr, etc for years after being first introduced. Is this correct?
I'll explain my specific situation...
Our apt building has a very nice woman who does cleaning service twice monthly. She speaks no English or French, and my German (and Swiss German) skills are really lacking at the moment. However, when I introduced myself to her (in German), she replied that her name is Frau..., [something something something, more or less but my first name is] Eva...[something something Frau]. So I think she introduced herself with Frau Last Name, and then said her first name after, in a separate sentence.
My question is: do I now call her by her first name, or Frau Last Name? I know in the US it would be first name, but have worked with individuals from Asian cultures who have expressed that they still would expect the younger person (me in this situation) to call the elder by the title.
Apologies if this has been covered somewhere else on the EF, and apologies for the very long post!
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Old 06.01.2011, 12:39
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Re: Culture Question - Names & Titles

That's not so easy to decide . Usually if someone introduces herself/himself with their last name, e.g. Meier. Then you call her Frau/Herr Meier. But she also gave you her first name. So that makes it a tad more difficult . Have you talked to her since? Did she call you by your first name? If she does I think so may you. If you haven't talked to her since you have two options. First: you call her by her last name (e.g. Frau Meier) or you tell her that you were confused and not sure if you may call her by her first name. Smile, say you're sorry and that it is due to your lack of German and smile again . I am sure she won't mind!
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Old 06.01.2011, 12:42
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Re: Culture Question - Names & Titles

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Hi Everyone,
I have a question about using titles when addressing someone. I have read that people use Frau, Herr, etc for years after being first introduced. Is this correct?
I'll explain my specific situation...
Our apt building has a very nice woman who does cleaning service twice monthly. She speaks no English or French, and my German (and Swiss German) skills are really lacking at the moment. However, when I introduced myself to her (in German), she replied that her name is Frau..., [something something something, more or less but my first name is] Eva...[something something Frau]. So I think she introduced herself with Frau Last Name, and then said her first name after, in a separate sentence.
My question is: do I now call her by her first name, or Frau Last Name? I know in the US it would be first name, but have worked with individuals from Asian cultures who have expressed that they still would expect the younger person (me in this situation) to call the elder by the title.
Apologies if this has been covered somewhere else on the EF, and apologies for the very long post!
In my experience, people often introduce themselves here as Herr/Frau + last name/first name. I was told that the general rule is to address strangers in any given situation as Herr/Frau + last name unless or until they expressly invite you to address them by their first name only. In some cases, people can take offence if this protocol is ignored.

As she introduced herself to you as Frau/last name/first name, then play it safe and call her Frau/last name.

I can certainly relate to your confusion. Took me a while at first to figure things out. Still make the occasional mistake even now though .

Take a look at this thread for some helpful pointers.
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Last edited by ximix; 06.01.2011 at 12:45. Reason: added some wording
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