MIT is not for the average citizen

Do you know Erika Mustermann?

If the political situation is complicated, there is the sentence in German: “Lieschen Müller doesn't understand that.” This refers to the woman from the street who doesn't study the newspaper around the clock and is not really interested in politics. Your friend with the beautiful name of the ordinary consumer leads a pretty calm life. He has a job, he washes his car at the weekend, watches soccer or grills with his friends. Lieschen Müller and Otto Normalverbrauch: These fictional names are used to describe the average citizen with his average way of life and his average desires. Often the two play a role in politics when it is to get closer to the citizen: Politicians have to keep a close eye on the concerns of the average Otto consumer if they want to get their agenda right.

A global phenomenon             

Fantasy names for the average person can be found all over the world. In Italy z. B. Pinco Pallino means something like the average Otto. A well-known term in the USA is John Doe or Jane Doe - often used for deceased people who could not be identified. In Turkey it also works with first names. There the proverbial citizens are called Ali, Veli, Ahmet, Mehmet, Ayse or Fatma. In Poland, the model name for forms and the average consumer is Jan Kowalski. Both the first and last name are widely used. One also speaks of the "ordinary Kowalski".

Erika Mustermann

In Austria, a portal warns of “nutritional errors by Mr and Mrs Austrians”. They also know a Ms. Mustermann there when it comes to the Austrian EU driving license model. In Germany, Erika Mustermann has been known as an ID card name since the 1980s. The photos of Ms. Mustermann today and in the past show employees of the Bundesdruckerei, which produces the ID cards for the German ministries. The print shop is keeping a low profile on the subject. Who the women are should remain a secret.

And what is behind Lieschen Müller and the average consumer? The linguist Lutz Kuntzsch and his colleague Hannah Schultes from the Society for German Language refer to expert essays: According to the author Heinz Küpper, Lieschen Müller is a “fictional person with a shallow, uncritical, sentimental approach to art”. Possibly it comes from the novel "Lumpenmüller's Lieschen" from the 19th century.

The average consumer comes from a film character of the same name who was played by Gert Fröbe. The "Berlin Ballad" from 1948 tells the story of a war returnee who has to cope with his everyday life between offices and ration cards. What the average consumer dreamed of: A blonde woman served him mountains of cakes at a buffet.