Using multiple titles to address someone

Not quite. It was Vienna, so it’s Austrian German, which is different from German(y) German. (And Swiss German is officially a seperate language, too).*

Secondly, Adressing the wife of a doctor as doctor, too, is indeed an Sexist practice, that was used back in the 50s in Germany, too, (when the only way a women could conceivably get a title was to marry somebody), that has disappeared in Germany itself with changing attitude in Society.

Austrians, on the other Hand, are still joked about how every male is addressed as Hofrat, and every (male?) who wears glasses adressed as Doktor out of politeness.

No, it’s not about power structures. It’s partly the law - in Germany, some titles which you earn, like Doktor, are officially part of Name, others not (and some titles are inherited, like Freifrau von… - the Austrians got legally rid of Nobility titles after WWII).
It’s considered Basic politeness to adress adults with Herr or Frau (Mr./Mrs) Name, and if they earned a title like Doktor, it gets added for the recognition, so it’s Herr Doktor Schmidt, Frau Doktor Müller.

If they then go one step further to Professor, why should they loose the Doktor? So it turns into Frau Professor Doktor Müller.

Now, if you become good friends with her, she might invite you to call her Lisa, but that’s a privilege she gives, not a presumption another Person makes, to smarmily call her by first Name as if they were friends, disregarding her titles and Basic politeness of Frau.

Interestingly, Reverend is not a seperate title in German - it’s either “Frau Pfarrer” (Mrs Reverend) or “Frau Maier”. The casual distinction seems to be it’s Reverend when talking about them, Mr/ Mrs Name when talking to them; but also older Folks seem to use more Reverend instead of Name (there might be also a Catholic/ Protestant distinction).
Also, while usually at least Lutheran Reverends have studied theology before being appointed, they usually don’t have a doctoral degree, so they aren’t adressed as Doctors.

  • what makes a language seperate from a dialect is both a political and a linguistic issue. In this case, it seems the smaller the Country is - and less politically important - and the more they feel that Germany is culturally and economically dominating the landscape, the more they insist on their “own” culture, including language. Sometimes as far as dubbing Children’s movies into a seperate Edition from Standard German.

Related question: when were women first admitted to universities in Germany (or other German-speaking countries if you know it)? I’m guessing it started becoming normal in the 1960s, is that correct?

Depending on the state, beginning in 1900 (Baden) to 1908 (Prussia). There were some exceptions beginning in the 18th century, and in the second half of the 19th quite a few German women got their degrees in Switzerland.

The Encyclopedia says Emmy Noether was still having mysterious problems in the 1920s like not actually being paid and not being professor ordinarius, so we know it wasn’t yet “normal” then.

Individual women, with single permissions, studied and finished University in 1754* and onward. The struggle started at the end of 19th century (along with other rights, as in many other countries, the suffragettes). In the 1920s, University Access for women was granted. During the 3rd Reich of course, the role of women in Society was “back to the kitchen and Kids”.

But the big “Explosion” in education was in the 1960s, when a new Generation had finished Advanced High School granting Access to University under German System, plus the (second) wave of feminism in the 60s, that along with legal changes, meant Society at large slowly understood that women were not simply appendages of men, or only housewife+ mothers, but People, with wishes, ambitions, careers and talents just like (male) People. That’s why for the later Generation the idea of being called Dr. Smith because you married a Dr. Smith, instead of earning the title yourself, is beyond ludicrous, but incomprehensible.

There’s also a noticeable difference between West- and East Germany: East Germany had a lack of qualified workers, esp. before the wall was built, so women got lots of practical natural science stuff in High School, and the communist state provided extensive opportunities for child-care, so the rate of women with University degrees was much higher there than in the West.

Another aspect of Titles changing due to the time of the “'68er” (68er-Bewegung – Wikipedia) was the slow phasing-out of “Fräulein” = Miss for unmarried women. Adult women, regardless of married Status, were called Frau (Mrs). In the 70s and 80s, female Teens were called Fräulein either as gentle tease or on official letters - which were rare. Like the community bank sending a letter about your savings account addressed to Fräulein Johanna Schmidt - Miss Joan Smith if you were under 18 years.

*Long article in German at Frauenstudium im deutschen Sprachraum – Wikipedia

Thank you.

It is very similar to the situation in Spain, both the history of women entering university and the forms of address: we don’t pile up titles except in official documents (it’s amazing how many adjectives a bureaucrat can get) and our law authorizing women to enter college is from Juana la Loca, but everything else is a direct parallel.

Mops answered the legal question: when it was allowed for women to study. But that didn’t make it “normal” for Society at large, that came later.

In the 1860s, Mary Todd Lincoln insisted on being called “Mrs. President,” as the title “First Lady” was not in common usage at the time.

Then Mary Todd Lincoln was also being sexist (and presumptuous); it was the 1860s, not the 1960s or 2060s. (Btw “First Lady” is no less ridiculous than “Mrs President”.)

US social norms were even more patriarchal back then, since apparently the wife of John Smith was usually adressed as Mrs John Smith - loosing not only her last, but also her first Name after marriage.

But yes, I was referring to the anecdote of a “recent” conference in Vienna - maybe usual/ polite for Austrian social norms, but today in Germany it would be Sexist. In the 1950s in Germany it would have been normal, in the 1850s probably too.

Roman Catholic here, and I usually only see “The Reverend” in writing, like when my traditional father addresses his Christmas cards to our pastor. :slight_smile: It’s not “Reverend” or “rev” in person, it’s “Father” for a priest who doesn’t have a higher rank like bishop, etc.

I just saw the list of our diocese’s seminarians today, and since they’re still in school, they were just called “Mister”. It’s weird to see some of them with white collars already but still being called “Mister”. :slight_smile:

FWIW, a great-uncle was the chaplain on the Arizona. He was Captain Chaplain Kirkpatrick.

Richard Francis Burton (the author/explorere/polyglot) was referred to as Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, so I would guess there is either a protocol for which honorific comes in which order, or it just sounds better than Sir Captain, which sounds faintly ridiculous.

In the Catholic Church, Cardinals’ honorifics are often heard in the middle of the name, as in “John Cardinal Newman”. I always wondered why that was, and a priest told me that was done to help provide humility.

I’ve also heard that the higher ranks of the Church has held large numbers of aristocrats in Europe, and that one is forbidden to use one’s aristocratic title once one takes on holy orders. The former Count Johann Konrad Maria Augustin Felix Graf von Preysing Lichtenegg-Moos, the Bishop of Berlin who was detested by Hitler for his resistance to the Nazis, was known as simply Bishop Preysing. He later became a cardinal, so there was probably a “Cardinal” inserted somewhere in that thicket of names.

Decades ago, I maintained a mailing list for an organization that was international, with a lot of the members from Germany & Swiss Universities, as well as elsewhere in Europe, Asia, etc. Early on, we decided that the list would have only the actual name of the person, like Heinrich Muller, without any Herr Doktor, Professor, Emeritus, Lecturer, Chair, etc. Only the name. (We blamed it on the computer system. Ironic, since it was a computer software organization.)

A lot of people were rather upset at this. Or concerned that it was incorrect, and highly improper. Finally we had to reprint this note right on the subscription form – so many were sent in with ‘corrections’ to add the appropriate title, or change it when they were promoted from Associate Professor to Assistant Professor, for example.

A couple people even sent us a page of address labels to use for them, with their full academic titles, since our system couldn’t handle that. They said they would lose face at their institution if an academic journal arrived in just their name without the proper titles, or that others there would consider it an insult to the institution to not include the full title for a professor there.

As a naive (& probably parochial) American teen, used to our informality, this insistance on titles seemed very strange to me.

It is not informality. It is a reflection of the United States theoretical egalitarianism.

In the 1980’s, I worked on a software team in Germany that had to program email addressing of German honorifics - it was a major pain for the programmer who ended up with that part of the project.

And to this Spaniard it’s funny, because Americans use more titles than we do.

It’s Both a legal and a cultural norms Problem.

Legally, you can only be appointed to certain Posts - especially at Universities - if you have the qualification of Doctor or equivalent title. Leaving that title out implies therefore that you don’t belong on that Position.

Also, legally, only People who earned their title, like Doctor, can use it in public. It’s illegal to use the title if you didn’t earn it. And Germany doesn’t have diploma mills - all Universities have a Minimum Standard, despite state-differences in education. (With Internet, things have changed - everybody can get a title from oversea diploma mill - but they won’t be recognized by German law, because only real Unis are on the list of equivalent approved Titles).

That’s also why the “h.c.” is so important after a Doktor or Professor: it means honorius causa - given honorably. Somebody didn’t study the normal way at University, but the way that Person worked in the field was so influential that the University honors them with a degree for the accomplished work.

Isn’t that what they did for Martin Luther King, jr., after his plagiarism was revealed? The rules of science and University demand that a title based on plagiarized work is taken away; but because of his great Service to Society for equal rights, the Uni gave him a honorable Doctorate? (That would be a good way for me to fulfill the letter of the law while honouring real achievement).

Aside from the legal aspect, People are proud of their hard-earned title, and don’t want it dropped for no good reason.

It’s also a lame excuse - just add another field with “Title” and fill it with a dozen approved titles (Assistant Professor is not a title, but Professor is). That’s how most german databases are set up.
You have to compensate for the Umlauts already (only the early PCs switched them to the old form of ue, oe, ae and ss), so why not one additional field?

Better yet, let them type in their own titles, so you don’t have to anticipate every single one that might be used (and a dozen might not be nearly enough).

Official University titles - Doktor, Professor - are limited. The last time new ones were added was during the EU Bologna Reform, which introduced Bachelor and Master (which didn’t Exit before).

This is different from a Job title, like Assistant Professor, of which there are many.

As non-programmer, I assume it would be easier to have a scroll-down field from which to select the official title, than to have a field where users can enter free-form - how do you account for length? Most forms I see on the Internet intendend for Germans do in fact that: the first is the “Form of Adress” field, drop-down Mr or Mrs - (this Needs to be reworked after Intersex is finally recognized as new gender*), and on official forms, the “title” field is usually drop down, too.

  • One of the more ridicolous complaints when finally gay marriage was legally allowed (Gay partnership had been allowed under the Red-Greens way back, but then languished while all other countries went all the way to full Gay marriage) was that all forms for City Offices where married couple would be entered would Need to be changed from Ehemann/ Ehefrau (Husband/ Wife) to allow two Ehemann - the obvious solution would have been to Change way before to “Ehepartner” (marriage Partner), and avoid all that Trouble.