Young people don't like "Denglisch" in occupational titles

Joachim Gerd Ulrich, Verena Eberhard, Andreas Krewerth

The majority of those choosing occupations in Germany dislike Anglicized occupational titles, such as "Sales manager" instead of "Verkaufsleiter." This is the initial finding of a new poll of around 2,400 young people. All of those polled were registered with the German Federal Employment Agency as applicants for training places in 2004.

Published: January-13-05 URN: urn:nbn:de:0035-0108-0

inhalt_Contentseite-MetaBild 20240

The young people put forward the following arguments against the use of English designations in Germany:­

  • The German language is atrophying;
  • The English titles seem unfamiliar, they are confusing and, if anything, add to uncertainty;
  • Older people in particular have no idea about the meaning of titles in foreign languages;
  • The titles in English sound pretentious and smarmy, so they seem rather clichéd and silly.

Only 18% of the young women and 9% of the young men polled think that the English-language titles are often more attractive than the German designations. So, young men display an even more critical stance in their rejection of the English names than women do. However, the young people felt it was important to emphasize that their rejection of English language designations had nothing to do with Germano-mania or any kind of excessive nationalism.

Voices on the subject of "Anglicized" occupational titles:

  • "I think using English titles for occupations is inappropriate, since we live in Germany and, in my opinion, it doesn't promote the German language."
    (16-year-old student from a specialized vocational school)
  • "Actually, I'm okay with the job titles. But I do think that English job titles aren't necessary. Not because I don't understand English, but because such titles convey a wrong image."
    (Trainee electronics technician for industrial equipment, 17)"I think the use of English in occupational designations today is idiotic. Because that's how you make an applicant feel uncertain, and that scares him off a bit."
    (19-year-old military service conscript)
  • "The occupational titles should stay German and not be Americanized. Older people should be able to figure out the meaning behind titles in their own country."
    (Future public administrator, 19)
  • "I'm all for clear, German occupational titles. You get a better idea of what you're dealing with! Besides, we live in Germany and not in England and not in France, and so on. (I'm not an NPD supporter.)"
    (Trainee assistant cook, 17)
  • "I don't think it's right to give occupations English titles or particularly euphemistic titles to make them sound more attractive than they are. Such titles don't convey enough and are distracting. Besides, in my opinion people should stick with German terms and words and not replace so much with English."
    (18-year-old student)
  • "I'm flexible, the main thing is that the names are German"
    (Trainee Carpenter, 15)

Occupational titles are often perceived as meaningless

The adolescents want occupational titles that are as evocative as possible. That makes it much easier for them to get an overview. However, 52% of the young women and 43% of the young men polled reported having often run across designations that conveyed absolutely nothing to them. This is regrettable, since for one fifth of the young people selecting occupations that was a reason not to take a closer look at the occupation in question. So, the perception of occupational titles as meaningless combined with the fact that the young people don't bother to find out more about the unfamiliar designations may be the reason that some occupations are struggling with a shortage of applicants.

inhalt_Contentseite-MetaBildZoom 20237

Looking at it from another perspective, occupational titles might also provide an explanation for the fact that so many young people are still concentrating on a very few, but well-known, occupations. In 2004, 227,600 young people who requested vocational counselling were looking for a training position as Dealer in retail sales, as sales clerk, as Administrative clerk, as Motor vehicle mechatronics technician, or Motor vehicle service mechanic, as Medical assistant, or as Hairdresser.

For these 227,600 training place applicants, there was a total training supply of only 101,400 places available in the occupations desired.

Occupational titles are being used as filter

inhalt_Contentseite-MetaBildZoom 20235

It is to some extent understandable that young people don't always take the trouble to inform themselves in detail about occupational titles with which they are unfamiliar and which they perceive as meaningless. Many young people feel overwhelmed by the mass of information that deluges them in the process of selecting an occupation and looking for a training place. To get clear about things and get back on top of the situation quickly, many of them tend to rule out everything that is unfamiliar and meaningless right from the beginning.

Unfamiliar but attractive sounding occupational titles trigger curiosity

It is by no means impossible to override this mechanism though.

Many of the young people feel an urge to find out more about an occupation if its designation, though unfamiliar, sounds attractive. At any rate, this is true in the case of 48% of the young men and 59% of the young women polled.

inhalt_Contentseite-MetaBildZoom 20233

Reading the diagram: If the image of a particular occupation corresponds only to a limited extent to the young people's self-image, a mere 12% display some degree of interest in that occupation. If there is a high degree of correspondence though, 62% will do so. If the degree of familiarity with a given occupation is very low, then only 7% will have some rudimentary interest in that occupation. Where there is a high degree of familiarity, this proportion increases to 46%. When the prestige of people in a certain occupation is judged to be low, only 3% are interested in the occupation, at least at some rudimentary level. If the prestige is considered high, then the figure goes up to 47%.

About the background of the BIBB polls:
The polls are part of the BIBB research project "Job titles and their influence on young people's choice of occupation," launched in April of 2004. Two earlier studies focusing on students in schools offering general education were carried out in 2003.
The initial findings of the current BA/BIBB poll are reported here. These polls are being taken at irregular intervals in collaboration with the Federal Employment Agency. The most recent polling took place in November/December 2004. A total of more than 4,000 training place applicants are being asked about their experiences in selecting an occupation and looking for a training place.

It is also important to choose titles that sound familiar. This is the factor that argues strongly against borrowing words from foreign languages. And finally, it is important that the young people can live, and show their faces, with the title. They prefer occupations with designations that suggest intelligent and educated professionals. But this demands a certain amount of finesse: young people will jump ship if they get the feeling that the wool is being pulled over their eyes by showy and overblown occupational titles. In that case they perceive the occupational titles as deceptive packaging of second-glass goods: products that are wrapped in shiny foil that disguises what's underneath.

German language literature on the topic of occupational titles and choice of occupation

  • Krewerth, Andreas; Leppelmeier, Ingrid; Ulrich, Joachim Gerd (2004)
    Der Einfluss von Berufsbezeichnungen auf die Berufswahl von Jugendlichen.
    In: Berufsbildung in Wissenschaft und Praxis, 33. Jg., Heft 1. S. 43-47.
  • Ulrich, Joachim Gerd; Krewerth, Andreas; Tschöpe, Tanja (2004)
    Berufsbezeichnungen und ihr Einfluss auf das Berufsinteresse von Mädchen und Jungen.
    In: Sozialwissenschaften und Berufspraxis, 27. Jg., Heft 4. S. 419-434.
  • Krewerth, Andreas; Tschöpe, Tanja; Ulrich, Joachim Gerd; Witzki, Alexander (Hrsg.) (2004)
    Berufsbezeichnungen und ihr Einfluss auf die Berufswahl von Jugendlichen.
    Theoretische Überlegungen und empirische Ergebnisse. W. Bertelsmann: Bielefeld.
  • Ulrich, Joachim Gerd; Krewerth, Andreas; Tschöpe, Tanja (2004)
    Die Berufswahl von jungen Frauen und Männern: Welche Rolle spielen die Berufsbezeichnungen?
    Bonn: Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung; Available from: ulrich@bibb.de

German language literature on the topic of the search for apprenticeship places and career choice from the perspective of training place applicants: Findings of the 2002 Study

  • Ulrich, Joachim Gerd; Troltsch, Klaus (2003)
    Wichtige Ergebnisse der Lehrstellenbewerberbefragung 2002 im Überblick.
    In: Informationen für die Beratungs- und Vermittlungsdienste (ibv), No. 13/03 from 25 June 2003, pp. 1.691-1.692.
  • Ulrich, Joachim Gerd; Ehrenthal, Bettina (2003)
    Verlauf der Lehrstellensuche und Verbleib der Ausbildungsstellenbewerber des Jahres 2002.
    In: Informationen für die Beratungs- und Vermittlungsdienste (ibv), No. 13/03 from 25 June 2003, pp. 1.701-1.723.
  • Brosi, Walter; Troltsch, Klaus (2004)
    Ausbildungsbeteiligung von Jugendlichen und Fachkräftebedarf der Wirtschaft
    Forschung spezial, Issue 8.

Date of publication, information Deutsche Nationalbibliothek

Publication on the Internet: January-13-05

URN: urn:nbn:de:0035-0108-0

Die Deutsche Bibliothek has archived the electronic publication "Young people don't like "Denglisch" in occupational titles", which is now permanently available on the archive server of Die Deutsche Bibliothek.

Creative Commons-Lizenz

inhalt_Contentseite-MetaBild 19003

Content on this page is licensed under the Creative Commons License "Attribution: Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Germany". Further information on this is available on our Creative Commons page (de).