German Placeholders: Names Posted by Constanze on Jun 19, 2019 in Language
Guten Tag! We briefly touched on German placeholders in this post, about the words Krimskrams (stuff, junk) and Dingsbums (thingy, thingymajig). Now we’re going to look at lots more placeholders in German, starting with German names.
A placeholder is a generic word you use in place of a real word. This might be because you can’t think of the actual word or phrase you’re looking for, or because you aren’t talking about anything or anyone specific. One common example in English is the name John Doe to describe an unknown male. So who is the German equivalent to John Doe? Read on to find out.
German Placeholders: Names
Max Mustermann/Erika Mustermann
Max and Erika are two common, German Platzhalternamen (‘placeholder names’ – also sometimes called die Notnamen – ‘emergency names’). These are the names you see on official identity document examples, such as on a German ID card (der Personalausweis). Max Mustermann and Erika Mustermann are the German John Doe and Jane Doe.
Otto Normalverbraucher/Lieschen Müller
Otto Normalverbraucher is your ‘Average Joe’ in German. Otto is a common first name in German, while Normalverbraucher translates to ‘normal consumer’ or ‘average consumer’. Lieschen Müller is the female equivalent. Both her first and second name are common in Germany. They represent the average German citizen (der Durchschnittsbürger).
Hans und Franz/Hinz und Kunz
Hans und Franz – also sometimes Hinz und Kunz, short for Heinrich und Konrad – is the German equivalent to Tom, Dick & Harry, meaning: everybody and anybody. ‘Wir sagen nichts– sonst kommt jeder Hans und Franz!’ – ‘We won’t say anything- otherwise every Tom, Dick & Harry will come!’ Hans, Franz, Heinrich and Konrad are all common German names.
Klein Fritzchen is the name of a little boy that pops up in lots of rude German jokes (joke – der Witz). These are called die Fritzchenwitze (‘Little Fritz jokes’). The English equivalent is ‘Little Johnny’, and he too has ‘Little Johnny jokes’, which are also rude in nature.
Check back next week for more German placeholders!
Bis dann (until then)!
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