Austrians and Titles

One thing you will notice if you sign up for an account anywhere in Austria is the Austrian obsession with titles.  And I am not just talking about “Herr” and “Frau”. When we logged on to our mobile phone provider account on line to update information, one of the many options was to select a title.  It wasn’t Mr, Mrs, Miss, Master, or Dr. in the drop down.  There were at least a hundred titles to choose from.

Titles are a form of hierarchy here in the same way as you go from enlisted to General in the the US Army. The higher your title the more respect you are given.   In the United States, it is common to call someone who has earned a PhD or MD a doctor when addressing them.  But you never hear someone addressed by their other degrees or profession.

In Austria, if you are a university professor and happen to be have a masters degree, you would be greeted, for example, as “Herr/Frau Professor Magister so and so”.  If you have a double masters degree, that is acknowledged by saying “Frau Professor Magister Magister.”  If you have more than one profession say, for example, you are a pharmacist with a doctorate degree and you teach at the university level, you would be addressed as “Herr/Frau Doktor Pharmazeut, Professor so and so.”

This is apparently unique to Austria as my German professor from Germany explained that this is not the case in Germany.  She shared that since Austrians never had a noble class, they wanted to have something to show societal status.  I have also heard that they take pride in their accomplishments and want them acknowledged.  For foreigners, it will seem that they are showing off, but, to them, this is the way they do things.  If you do not address an Austrian by their titles, this could cause offense.

You will also receive better services (from what I understand) if you use your title.  So, you may now refer to me (Milena) as Frau Magister Lizenziert Klinische Sozialarbeiter! And yes, I list this on all my store cards/accounts:-)


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