Talk:German name

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Change[edit]

I don't think that "There are only five circumstances in which one is allowed to change one's name". Or maybe this is different in Austria, because a friend of mine change her name (both her Vorname and her Nachname) for none of the listed reasons (she just wanted a different name). She just needed to show proof that she isn't naming herself after a celebrity etc. 13:52, May 12, 2008 (GMT+1) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.121.51.79 (talk) 11:53, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

To my knowledge, there are at least four more cases allowing a change of name:

- You can take your former name when you get divorced.

- You can change your name when you are adopted.

- A child may take the new name of the mother (or father?) when that changes, e.g. after a divorce or when the mother is adopted and takes the name of the adopting family.

- A name can be changed with an important reason, e.g. offending names — Preceding unsigned comment added by 193.135.254.161 (talk) 09:14, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

old[edit]

Is there a law or authority that establishes allowable names or forms of names? Rmhermen 17:55, May 19, 2004 (UTC)

No, it is within the power of the Standesbeamter (officer of the authority registring births and marriages) to judge whether a name is appropiate and legal. So if you want to give your child un unsual name, you just have to convince this officer that this name is common (or at least used) in some country and that it tells the sex. Sometimes, the Standesbeamte might also refuse a name because it can be regarded as offensive or derogative and become a problem for the child. Of course, you can appeal against a decision at a court (which will usually bring you a satiric report in your local newspaper about the strange names some people insist on giving their poor children). Sanders muc 18:29, 19 May 2004 (UTC)
Could you add some of that to the article? Rmhermen 20:27, May 19, 2004 (UTC)
However, one of the heaviest burdens for a child is actually a regular Christian name and can thus legitimately be used; I'm speaking, of course, of Adolf. - Interesting would be what the officer would say a) to an Italian b) to an Italian-descended German who wants to name his son Andrea, which is a male Italian but a female German name. A problem, of course, is that the song A boy named Sue couldn't probably have come into a German mind. --131.159.0.7 (talk) 11:47, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

Triple surnames[edit]

"More commonly, the spouses combine their Nachnamen by a hyphen, and so one of them (or both) then bears a double name (Doppelname). (There is a limit of only one hyphen in a name.)" -- This is not totally correct. There are also so called "old double names", which already existed for a long time (one example that just comes to my mind is "Müller-Lüdenscheid"). In these cases, a new double name may have three components and two hyphens. Because those old double names are rare, though, there are very few cases (although I happen to know one person - only one, and most people, probably none at all, just to show how rare they are). I'm not sure whether, and if, how, to put this information into the article, because it will complicate matters for only very rare exeptions, so I haven't changed the article. --222.13.236.80 09:50, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

Fräulein[edit]

Are girls up to say, 16 or 18 addressed that way socially? Or are they only addressed by first name? In many English speaking countries, you would never call a teenage girl "Ms. Angela Smith" in an invitation. She's either plain Angela Smith or Miss Angela Smith. Writerchick 13:18, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

- In spoken language, teenagers are usually addressed with their first name and using du. At school, teachers typically start using Sie at age 16 but usually stick to the first name. Parents call their children's teenage friends the same they: always with first name (and using Sie if the tennager is older than, say, 16 or 18, and they have not known him/her from earlier time). For written letters the general rule is (independent of age) that you start with "Liebe(r) <first name>" if du is used and "Sehr geehrte(r) Herr/Frau <last name>" if Sie is used. In the latter case, the address on the envelope should be preceded by Herr/Frau, in the former case this is optional. Oh, and written invitations printed on neat cards are not as common as in Britain, anyway. Simon A. 16:29, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

--> So in other words, even 14 year old girls are addressed as "Frau" on an envelope? In English, most people would never dream of addressing a 14 or even 17 year old girl as "Ms. Lastname." Writerchick 20:50, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

No. In virtually all contexts, one would simply write the first and last names, e.g., "Julia Schmidt." Except in very formal situations, it is now quite common to address correspondence to anyone (regardless of age) that way anyway, i.e., leaving out the Herr/Frau/Fräulein is virtually always safe. --ThorstenNY 19:25, 9 October 2006 (UTC)

And what about boys? Let's see: How would a maybe old-fashioned English grammar school teacher address his pupils? As "Mr. Potter", "Mr Weasley" and "Miss Granger", I suppose. Granted, not as "Ms Granger" (and I still wonder how "Ms" is pronounced). But, of course, English has less a problem with "Miss" than German. The English "Miss" used to imply that the adressed woman is unmarried, and now, it implies that she is not mature yet. The German "Fraeulein", however, is gramatically a diminuitive of "Frau". This renders the old style of adressing a, say, middle-aged unmarried woman as Fraeulein (literally "little-Missis") unbearbly derogatory, and a woman would hence take it today as an insult. This fact tainted the use of "Fraeulein" sufficiently to see any use of it as faux-pas, and so it is also no longer used even for young girls.

After all, one argues, for boys there never was a problem: If they are young, you address them by first name, and if they are old enough to be considered mature, you use "Herr" and the last name. Of course, there is this age region of roughly around 16, there everybody feels uncomfortable with both options (You can't call him by first name and with "du" as he's no longer a child, but for being adressed as "Herr" he is not enough of a man yet either.), and so people use the first name and "Sie" in spoken language, if they don't know the adressee well.

In letters, it may depend: If it is official mail, from some administration or company, it's probably some standard text anyway and not matched to the adressee's young age, and hence its To "Frau Lisa Meier". If it is a birthday card from a kid's uncle or grand-parent, it may have a Herr or Frau in front for "You have grown so much and are a big child now.", but that is slightly jocular. An official invitation for the wedding goes to the parents anyway, etc. If I think about it I haven't got enough mail as a child to really know what people would write on envelopes.

Any clearer now? Simon A. 16:46, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

In proper address, a young boy is addressed as "Master So-and-so" Traditionally, a boy is "Master" until he is 12 or 13, then plain Firstname until he is of age. I have heard, in some cases, of boys being addressed as "Master" until they are 16. Of course, I have also heard of teenaged boys being addressed as "Mr." As for "Ms." it is pronounced "Miz" Writerchick 23:28, 6 January 2006 (UTC)


Even for Germans, this sounds incredibly bureaucratic and restrictive. I'm actually shocked. --Q4 15:58, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

And I do wonder how women can take Fräulein as an insult if what they really do is take an allusion to their higher age as an insult. Anyway, I'm German and have never met a fräulein who has taken the address as an insult, except maybe those with whom you don't even think of trying. You know, there are those who reason: A woman is Frau, i. e. more, when she has a husband, thus this is utter reactionary stuff concerned with marriage and husbands... I rather feel that the problem is we have no similiar title for men. Since as much as Fräulein Schmidt of 18 years is not a Frau Schmidt, a Fritz Müller of 19 years is not a Herr Müller, only there's no other word for what he is. Fritz Müller may be a Herr Gefreiter on joining the army, or you might try "Herr Geselle" or "Herr Kfz-Mechatroniker" (I don't say that's common as address, but that's what he is); he is only really a Herr Müller when "settling". No this is for me the difference between a Frau and a Fräulein. But you'd better call them with first names, anyway, at least in sufficiently familiar scenery. However, on, say, a postcard - in the postal address (Adresse in German), not the personal address (Anrede in German) - why not. --131.159.0.7 (talk) 12:08, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

Same Name As Parent[edit]

"If a son bears the same Vorname as his father (which is quite uncommon in most areas of Germany)..."

As a genealogist, I know this for a fact to be untrue. However, I would like to know the source of this from the author, in case his experience may be a regional phenomenon.--KYJustin 20:27, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

agree, in some areas its even common that a son is named after his father (Vorname) and uses Jun. in his name (Alexander Schmid and his son Alexander Schmid jun.)
Not unlike other Western countries it was quite common to give kids a parent's name, but as of 2007 I find it unthinkable that people would still do this. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hanszarkow (talkcontribs) 02:51, August 28, 2007 (UTC)
Well, my parentsd did^^. I actually have the same name as my father and my grandfather and the father of my grandfather, 'Hermann'. We are no aristocrats at all, we just got used to it, and it is something really original if you consider that no other family is doing that. I don't know anyone else in Germany with this tradition. I will name my son Hermann too (if I will ever have one), just to leave everyone flabbergasted...

Paris, 21.03.2007 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 90.44.70.35 (talk) 15:40, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

Anyway, if describing common things, it's common to write about what was common some decades ago... That it's an aristocratic code-sign is just wrong; except in the fact that aristocrats have a habit of sticking to traditions. What really is an aristocratic code-sign is a whole lot of names.--131.159.0.7 (talk) 12:16, 10 June 2011 (UTC)
Unthinkable? Hanzarkow needs to be exposed to more families, this is not at all a remarkable practice and really has little indication of a person's social status. I have the same first name (and last name) as my father, but we have different middle names, so we're not Jr/Sr. I do know people my age who are, however. It does make genealogy more difficult, I wouldn't recommend it just for that fact. Nerfer (talk) 20:58, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

Fröken[edit]

Does anyone know where the "Fröken" example comes from? I'm just wondering because "Fröken" actually means "Miss" (i.e., "Fräulein") in Icelandic. -- Schneelocke 08:52, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Rachel[edit]

I deleted "RACHEL is a bad name". I wonder who added this and why. Sanders muc 17:10, 19 May 2004 (UTC)

I suppose it's because it just doesn't sound good in German.
Rachel isn't very common in Germany but i know several girls with this name. I think that this comment was antisemitic... (there's a nazi song (Rachel, weisst du überhaupt was ein Rabbi ist?).
The german version of the name is Rahel. "Rachel" is the english version of the name, and this is uncommon in german.195.128.251.145 (talk) 22:53, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

Crenshaw??[edit]

Is that really one of the most common names? never heard it...

It was vandalism. Fixed now. Rmhermen 03:23, 13 August 2007 (UTC)


Rejected Names[edit]

shortened names[edit]

> It is fairly uncommon to use shortened names officially (like "Bill Gates" instead of "William H. Gates, III"). So even if all of Benjamin's friends call him "Benni" (German short for Benjamin), he will always write his name as "Benjamin".

That is by no means true. There are loads of people whose official names are Bernhard or Heinrich and who will call themselves Bernd and Heinz when writing their name. --85.181.237.17 (talk) 16:28, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Doppelname (e. g. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt)[edit]

lie[edit]

"It is strictly forbidden to give children Doppelnamen." This is not completely true. I'm German and I know German children with Doppelnamen. I don't know the law, though. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 217.227.219.235 (talk) 23:16, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

it's not a lie; details[edit]

You can talk about “Doppelnamen” with first names and as well with family names. Examples:

Here we discuss family names (Nachnamen), I guess (the author of ‘lie’ gave no example.) With Vornamen, there is no problem to call a boy either “Hans Peter” or Hans-Peter (using “Bindestrichfügung”; attachment with hyphen) or even Hanspeter (“Verschmelzung”; melting).
Herr Weiß and Frau Schwarz are today not allowed to call their daughter Melissa Schwarz-Weiß. --Schwab7000 (talk) 16:41, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
This is what was said in the article:

  • It is strictly forbidden to give children Doppelnamen.[3] → This link goes to an “Urteil*) des Bundesverfassungsgerichts vom 30. Januar 2002” on “§ 1617 BGB”. Since 2002, it is settled!

*) decision of the Federal Constitutional Court.

B U T: → What if the mother already carries the name Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, just an example? (Then this can become the child's name.)

--Schwab7000 10:19, 22 June 2011 (UTC)
At en.wiki's BGB, I just found the ‘External links’:

  • English translation of “Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch”

There you can find:

  • Title 4 : Legal relationship between the parents and the child in general
Section 1616 Birth name in the case of parents with family name
Section 1617 Birth name in the case of parents without family name and with joint parental custody
then Section 1617a & b & c
Section 1618 Bringing child under family name (...)

(Section is in German “§” = Paragraph)--Schwab7000 (talk) 10:44, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

Hofname[edit]

I'd like to see a reference for this one. I've never heard of it before and no reference was given. CsikosLo (talk) 17:25, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

A longer explanation is at de:Hausname, unfortunately in german :-) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 87.160.99.106 (talk) 18:23, 29 March 2008 (UTC)


German Headings[edit]

While, of course, I am aware that this is an article about German names. I don't see why the title headings themselves need to be in German. This is not a German language article and it seems as if some of the the more arbitrary changes, direct translations such as vorname instead of forename only complicate matters for English-only speakers/readers and should be changed. Does anyone agree? Disagree? EttaLove (talk) 17:38, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

Today, I added this last section on “gender” with the German words “eindeutig beim Geschlecht”, where Geschlecht = gender(here) and “eindeutig” is explained at the start. The idea might have been some sort of “eyecatcher”. (That's almost a German word to some Germans). I think a section could have a “German” title, as Doppelname, if this term is used in the article. Perhaps that's better than ‘lie’. But perhaps too many German words make the reading too tough work. I'm sorry I didn't read your comment before I started writing those other sections. But I'm happy to find this good article in "en.wiki". --Schwab7000 (talk) 18:52, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

Call name[edit]

“It is not uncommon to give a child several Vornamen, particularly for girls and among Catholics. Usually, one of them is meant to be normally used and called the Rufname (call name). This is often underlined on official documents, as it is often the second or third name in a list, even though it is the person's main name: the idea of first names being more important than middle names, as is usually the case in Anglo-Saxon cultures, is unknown.” I think this section is quite dated. My grandfather (born in 1904) had a Rufname, which was actually his second Vorname, but nowadays this is rather uncommon in Germany. Legally, one can use any of the Vornamen one was given as one's preferred Rufname and even change it without any prerequisite, so if the current German minister for economics Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg wanted to, he could use any of his 10 Vornamen as the name to be called with (except for the Maria, I guess :-)). But in reality, such things rarely happen. Btw, the example shows not only girls can have many Vornamen, though 10 is a bit excessive, such large numbers of names are mostly confined to former nobility. There are even court decisions limiting the number of Vornamen, a mother wasn't allowed to give her child 12 Vornamen, but only 5. --Rosenzweig (talk) 22:07, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

I've deleted the "particularly for girls and among Catholics" part. Unless someone can come up with some proof for that, I consider it wrong. Most of my Protestant ancestors have several "Vornamen" (typically about three); both males and females. --Kobraton (talk) 19:21, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

I was curious about this part. Several of my ancestors have the first name Johann (if just one name) or Johannes (if two names) for males, and Maria for the first name for girls. They would then usually be referred to by their second name. I was told this was a religious thing, to name your kids after John the Baptist, and Mary the mother of Jesus. This would seem to indicate a Catholic faith, but they were not Catholics, so I'm wondering if there was any particular religion/locality tied to this practice? Nerfer (talk) 21:05, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Protestants are not forbidden to name their children after John the Baptist and Mary (which are both acknowlegded as important figures by the Protestants as well), so bearers of those names don't have to be Catholic. Staunch Protestants sometimes named their sons "Gustav Adolf", after the Swedish king who faught for the Protestant cause in the Thirty Years' War. But since Adolf is now mostly associated with Hitler and Gustav is quite old-fashioned, this is mostly historical nowadays. --Rosenzweig (talk) 19:06, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

Most popular names between 1957 and 2006[edit]

I really find it hard to believe that some of these names made it on this list - especially considering the timespan. Some of the names only gained popularity rather recently. I would be very interested to see a source for this information. Reckham (talk) 14:09, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

That was added by an IP user on 8 May 2007 [1]. Probably from here. --Rosenzweig (talk) 22:55, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

name change[edit]

I know that German law allows name changes for nobility on inheriting titles. 71.194.44.209 (talk) 04:40, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

Is there an explicit provision to that effect? A bit odd, if the law does not recognize titles (but does not forbid them either as in Austria). —Tamfang (talk) 17:00, 26 March 2014 (UTC)

lack of freedom[edit]

surely the most important fact about german names is that you don't have a free choice like in usa, uk etc.? same in norway. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 92.41.193.239 (talk) 12:18, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

Seems like it's the same in a lot of European countries. Something like that should definitely be covered in the article. We need a reference to back it up though. Do you know a good webpage/book/something that describes how Germans are limited to certain names?--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 08:48, 15 May 2011 (UTC)


Well, this is actually a quite complicated topic. I guess Germany is more restrictive compared to the US. For example naming a girl "Hope" or "Cheyenne Blue" is rather impossible in Germany. The authorities are supposed to consider the well-being of the child ('Kindeswohl' in German) when the name is registered. This means that e.g. 'Ferrari' would not be possible or a name that is not clear about the gender. Still, I'd say the naming policy has become more and more relaxed in the last years with the advent of the Internet and the intrusion of international pop-culture into the German society. Problem with citations is that there is no law for this. There are just some verdict by the courts (even as high as the German Supreme Court), the article at the German Wikipedia is quite comprehensive.--31.16.160.227 (talk) 13:12, 26 September 2011 (UTC)


There is a phrase in the article: "not registered as legal names in German-speaking countries" which I think relates to this topic. I had heard that names have to be approved by authorities (?when the birth certificate is applied for?). For an english speaker, this is a rather unusual/interesting point, and I would like to see it included in the article. Feldercarb (talk) 15:30, 9 August 2012 (UTC)

Gender: "eindeutig beim Geschlecht"[edit]

Given names have to be "eindeutig beim Geschlecht" (that is unambiguous, distinct). At the Standesamt*) - it had been mentioned - and in your Personalausweis**, there is no ‘tag’ that would say male/female. So this has to be unambiguous from your Vorname(n). But there are some names like Kai, Kim, Toni for boys and girls. Then another names has to be added, like Peter (boy) or Anna (girl). And a ‘well-known’ exeption: Rainer Maria Rilke. Maria is allowed to be a 2nd given name for a boy.

The Vorname is usually gender-specific.

says the article. It's a bit more than usually. --Schwab7000 (talk) 16:18, 21 June 2011 (UTC)
*) Civil registration (bureau) **ID card

While I of course would hold Kai to be a male and Kim to be a female name (I know there are strange exceptions to the first). Toni would in all probability be written down as either Anton or Antonia and then that's settled. --91.34.207.168 (talk) 21:22, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Usage of family name without Herr/Frau[edit]

I think, it should be added, that politicians and celebrities are generally referenced by their last name only. So a news headline would very likely be “Merkel wird Kanzler” or “Klinsmann neuer Bundestrainer”, while this usage is not restricted to the news headlines but may appear in any news text as well as when talking about celebrities in general. --Schmidtwisser (talk) 15:47, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

Angela M. and Jürgen K.[edit]

Yes. In a German newstext, those persons are referred to by their full name (Angela Merkel or Jürgen Klinsmann) or just by their family name or by “Kanzlerin Merkel”, “Ex-Kanzler Schröder”. --Schwab7000 (talk) 13:00, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

There is hesitation to use the family name only in case of women; Merkel, only, is quite general by now (exception: the FAZ consistently writes Frau Merkel). Franziska van Almsick was soon Franzi but never Almsick; and Kristina Schröder most certainly isn't "Schröder".--91.34.207.168 (talk) 21:27, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

oh but the media called her Van Almsick as well, and Kristina Schroder is not calld Schroder standing alone because there are to many Schröders78.42.252.102 (talk) 13:49, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

Western order and alphabetized list of surnames.[edit]

The example in the passage "e.g. "Johann Sebastian Bach"." should actually be: "Bach, Johann Sebastian" — Preceding unsigned comment added by 95.91.255.177 (talk) 14:49, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

That's how I understand the passage, I'll change it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mardhil (talkcontribs) 13:03, 5 January 2014 (UTC)