a symbolic name for a (typical) German

Hello!!
In many countries Germans are collectively referred to as "Hans" or "Fritz" evoking the most popular German names at the time when this habit appeared. So every German man is a Fritz or a Hans.
Are these names known in Germany in this capacity? Would Germans understand being referred to Hanses or Fritzes? If not, is there any name Germans themselves use to refer to themselves collectively or as a stereotype?
 
  • Interesting. I do not know how much French you understand but could this http://www.germanistik.uni-freiburg.de/dafphil/internetprojekte/projekte5/dfkommunikation/Psymbolesnatio.html
    be true, saying that der Deutsche Michel never actually became as popular and representative of Germany as John Bull or Uncle Sam of England and the US respectively? and that he mostly symbolized the weak and defeated Germany?

    Also, I was quite surprised that a name so uncommon these days as Michel would be used to symbolize a typical German. Does that run true for Bavaria as well? Or is there any stereotypical name for a Bavarian?
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    We already had a thread here, although an 'international' one. Some further reading there and there.

    'Der deutsche Michel' only had some significance in the 19th century; nowadays only people with some education know about this (and also students who just had learned in German class about it - not more than a couple of days ago because else they'd already have forgotten about it :)).

    If you want to refer in a neutral way to the nation as such I can only provide these links, I don't know what would be most common and most neutral in Germany. In Austria the phrase of 'Herr und Frau Österreicher' finally seems to have won the race for 'most neutral stereotypical expression for the Austrian'.

    And as far as a more colored term is concerned - that's difficult too. We Austrians do not have a stereotypical first name to refer to Germans in general - we use other names there -, nor is there a single one for us to refer to ourselves. (There are several, and different from region to region.)

    It would not work in German language to refer to Germans in general with the names Hans or Fritz. (Wouldn't work for Austrians either, by the way.)
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    So would not Fritz work either?
    What do you mean by the role of the World War II in the perception of this name?
    Germans sometimes say 'dieser Fritze' or 'Vertreterfritze' or something like that - but this is a derogatory name for someone who is stupid, who is a nuisance, etc. They do not mean a stereotypical citizen of Germany.

    The World War II reference should - I think - point to the fact that Germans have learned from British and American war films how they were called by them (where 'Fritz' is dubbed as 'Fritz'; it's clear from context in those films that Germans are meant - but 'Fritz' is not used by Germans themselves, not in this sense).
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Der deutsche Michel' only had some significance in the 19th century; nowadays only people with some education know about this (and also students who just had learned in German class about it - not more than a couple of days ago because else they'd already have forgotten about it :)).
    I bit longer, actually. Up to the 1970s/early 1980s the Michel usually represented Germany in political cartoons.

    True, it was never a flattering symbol. The Michel was always portrayed as a phlegmatic simpleton.
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    The link does not work, but if it is 'Hofbräuhaus' and 'Bier' you probably could refer to your beloved German men as 'Meine lieben Bierbäuche'.

    I bit longer, actually. Up to the 1970s/early 1980s the Michel usually represented Germany in political cartoons.
    Now that's interesting; in Austria, as long as I can think back (that is till the early 1980s, as far as politics is concerned), the 'Michel' never was used to represent Germany, and wouldn't have come over as such at all.

    I heard about the 'Michel' for the first time in my life when I was 15 or 16 - in class, of course, when we learned about the Romantic period.
     

    Sidjanga

    Senior Member
    German;southern tendencies
    He's gorgeous, isn't he? :p
    ....
    But keep in mind that this species in particular is typical rather of Bavaria, and not so much of Germany as a whole.

    I am not sure (I acutally rather doubt it) that Northern Germans (and in fact anybody North of the river Main) would be prepared to identify with this stereotype.
     
    But keep in mind that this species in particular is typical rather of Bavaria, and not so much of Germany as a whole.

    I am not sure (I acutally rather doubt it) that Northern Germans (and in fact anybody North of the river Main) would be prepared to identify with this stereotype.
    That is true too. That is why I also asked whether there is some collective proper name used for Bavarians.
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    That is true too. That is why I also asked whether there is some collective proper name used for Bavarians.
    There isn't one for Bavarians either. But if you search for very common Bavarian names: try Sepp. Or if you want to be nostalgic, Vitus (this being an older one, not used very often nowadays).

    For the archetypical Bavarian 'Huawa Sepp' = 'Huber Sepp' could work (sometimes also written Hueber).

    Still, not even Bavarians are typically referred to with a certain name; the 'Huber Sepp' also is used in Austria and is first and foremost a rural stereotype (as is the Lederhosen figure, of course, which [the Lederhosen] are absolutely horrible, by the way, you can't wash them and they're stiff like armament, compared to ordinary blue jeans) - so I am not quite sure if someone from Munich would appreciate it, or someone from Svabia or Franconia.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    "Fritz" was used during the world war two, and it was known to the Germans. But it was used by the Russians, and may be by others. It was not used by the Germans themselves in this meaning, I agree with Sokol. It seems to be pejorative. Usage is asymmetric.
    The German forms were, when translated: "ein Fritz" or "die Fritzen". I did not know that "Hans" is used in this way internationally. I know another name "Krauts" (only used in English) (because Germans eat "Sauerkraut", may be? - At least this is the folk etymology.)

    I think, I would understand when being called "Fritz", but would not appreciate it.

    In German "Du Fritze" is sometimes used when addressing somebody slightly pejorative, also in connections with other words, example: "Du Popelfritze".

    The name of my father was "Fritz" and he did not like such usage at all.
     
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    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Hans? No, I never heard that. KnightMove

    Hans wird doch manchmal gebraucht um einen typischen Deutschen zu bezeichnen:
    Was Hänschen nicht lernt, lernt Hans nimmermehr, und, natürlich Hanswurst.
    Der Deutsche Michel erschien vor vielen Jahren sehr oft in der humoristischen Zeischrift Simplizissimus. Er wurde mit Spitznase, Schlafmütze und Schlafrock kaum schmeichelhaft dargestellt, war aber trotzdem das Äquivalent vom englischen John Bull, dem amerikanischen Uncle Sam, der französichen Marianne, und dem russischen Bären.
     
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    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Hans? No, I never heard that. KnightMove

    Was Hänschen nicht lernt, lernt Hans nimmermehr, und, natürlich Hanswurst.
    Das ist eher ein Sprichwort, das auf alle Menschen zutrifft und nicht speziell Deutsche betrifft. Es betrifft eher Lernfähigkeiten im Laufe der eigenen Entwicklung.

    "Hanswurst" ist auch keine Figur, die einen typischen Deutschen darstellt. Auch hier ist die Nationalität egal.
     

    Suilan

    Senior Member
    Germany (NRW)
    Sepp = Abkürzung für Josef im süddeutschen (bairisch-alemannischen) Dialektraum. Im moselfränkischen, rheinländischen, bergischen heißt es Jupp.
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Wobei "So ein Sepp!" das gleiche heißt wie "So ein Depp!" (=Dummkopf) -- zumindest, wo ich herkomme. :)
    In Österreich nicht.*) ;)
    (Und ich würde meinen, auch nicht in Bayern; sicher sagen kann ich das aber nur für's östliche Niederbayern.)

    *) "Sepp" und "Depp" reimt sich zwar wunderschön, eine stehende Wendung ist "So ein Sepp" in Österreich aber nicht, so viel ich weiss.
     

    Haribo

    Member
    german Germany
    Fritz ist immer noch ein typisch deutscher Vorname, nur heutzutage eher selten bis gar nicht anzutreffen.

    Der populärste DSL-Router in Deutschland heißt "Fritz-Box", damit man gleich sieht, dass er hier in D entwickelt worden ist.
     
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