I had a professor once who insisted we call him by his last name. “Don’t ever call me by my first name,” he said menacingly. He even used our last names for roll call (he had a hard time with Stoltzfus, by the way).

I amused myself by imagining how that would work in an Amish school. “Fisher,” the teacher would say.


“Here,” would come a chorus of voices from all over the room.




“Here,” only a few voices this time.




“Here,” another smattering of voices.




“Here,” this time the chorus would be so loud the rest of the children would have to cover their ears.




“Here,” two timid voices from the back of the room.


And the teacher would close the record book for the day.


Amish people generally do not use titles for people. When I was growing up, Uncle Jake was simply “Jake.” Aunt Rebecca was just “Becca.” There might be some Amish families that address their uncles and aunts with titles, but we never did.


My sister taught at an Amish school, and the children called her “Teacher,” never “Miss Anna” or “Teacher Anna.”


A woman is not addressed as “Mrs.” She is directly owned by her husband. My mom is “der Dan sei Lydia” which means Dan’s Lydia. My aunt is “der Ben sei Sadie” which means Ben’s Sadie. What a warm and cozy feeling. Or not.


Men are never addressed as “Mr.” Unless they have a nick name, they are usually called by their first name. Even the preacher is not addressed as “Preacher (Breddicher) Amos,” unless of course, someone wants to differentiate him from “Carpenter Amos” or “Butcher Amos.”


My Dad suggests that the reason for this is that they are trying to follow the following verses from the Bible:


8But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.

And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.

11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

Matthew 23:8-11 (King James)


Some people say the reason the Amish don’t use titles is because they are rude. Take your pick.