Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Odd German Way No. 1 - Being a Frau

I guess it is common knowledge, that in Germany you always address a person very formally, like Herr X or Frau Y. After living in Germany over one year, I still find this funny.

In Finland, we are used to very unformal way of approaching people. For example, if you get a VERY formal letter (e.g. about taxes or social benefits), you may be addressed with your whole name. But in almost any other situation, only your first name is used. For example, advertisers like to act like they know you well: ´Hi Maria, we have this great opportunity just for you!´. Also, in doctor's office you might be called in with your last name, but after that the doctor will use your first name. Finns only call older people ´rouva´ (Mrs.) or ´herra´ (Mr.), but otherwise ´Frau´ refers to being someones wife.

You can imagine that being used to the Finnish way, this Frau thing feels a bit odd. Before moving to Germany, I had been married only for six months, so I hadn't really been used to my new name. And then suddenly I was called Frau Welle in all situations! It feels funny that all letters are addressed to ´Frau Welle´, not ´Maria Welle´. And the electrician fixing our doorbell calls me Frau Welle, not Maria... It still makes me feel old and, well, wife.

So, I hope you see the irony in the name of this blog, and don't expect my blog to be very formal or wifelike! :)

No comments: