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"Professor, one thing I still wanted to hear from you."

March 23, 2013



Do the German usually address professors with just "Professor" or with more polite "Herr Professor"?


"Herr Professor", but German students are not too keen on addressing their professors by their title. Usually, Prof Müller will be addressed as "Herr Müller".


Thanks, Christian. I thought just "Professor" sounds odd in German and tried "Herr Professor". Lost a heart and reported that.


Follow up question for you. I read a culture guide on Austria recently, I think it was this one http://goo.gl/wRQTh , but don't hold me to it. The author said two things that struck me as particularly odd and I was wondering if you had some insight being a neighbor and possibly having visited.

1) He said that Austrians will always address a PhD as "Doktor". And if the person had multiple PhDs it would be "Herr Doktor Doktor Ruberl". I fully accept/acknowledge the "Herr Doktor" part, but multiple "Doktor" seems excessive and I hesitate to believe it. If it was in a work situation (here in North America), I would call someone with a PhD "Doctor _" unless they asked me not to (happens very often) or we worked together frequently and were more friends than colleagues.

2) This question isn't related to language, but it popped into my head so I thought I'd ask. The author said that email has not caught on as a means of doing business in Austria, and that if you email a company, nobody will read it. If someone does read it, it quickly gets dismissed and not responded to (but they may do as you ask...like process an order or change your address). My limited dealings with Austrian companies has all been through email and I've never encountered this.

Any thoughts?


1) I can only speak for Germany, but "Herr Doktor Doktor Ruberl" seems excessive to me as well. Some people do actually say this though. You'll also hear "Professor Doktor Doktor Ruberl". As I said before, German university students don't really participate in this Professor Doktor Doktor thing. I suppose this is a result of the 1968 student protests.


As far as Austria goes, they have a reputation for taking titles very (overly) seriously.


2) Again, I can only speak for Germany, but I'd say it depends on the kind of business. A plumber is less likely to answer your email than a copywriter.


Thanks Christian. If I ever get over there my "laid back Canadian attitude" might get me in trouble. I imagine the scene from "Spies Like Us" going through my head and causing me to burst out laughing when I meet a Professor Doktor Doktor. (Not sure if this is the right link as I can't open youtube here) www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Lge2_H_8IQ

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