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How would someone most likely abbreviate Michael as a German speaker? I am trying to translate something and am curious what Germans use as the short version of Michael. I'm guessing it is the same as in English and the answer is Mike but I could also see it going the other way.

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    "I'm guessing it is the same as in English" - especially with names, that is not usually a reasonable assumption. Note that especially the consonant shift sometimes seen in English nicknames (Robert -> Bob, William -> Bill, ...) does not usually occur in German, unless the English pronunciation is intentionally mimicked because "English sounds cool" (which is how I think "Mike" became somewhat used in German). Jun 10 '15 at 9:22
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    Just to make sure: “Michael” is pronounced very differently in English and German. But Germans are familiar with the English “Michael” and use (an approximation of) the English pronunciation for Michaels from the English speaking world. The answers so far assume (sensibly, as this is the German SE), a German Michael.
    – Carsten S
    Jun 10 '15 at 9:48
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    @falkb Unless a person regularly goes by the short name. If Michael introduces himself as 'Micha' instead of 'Michael' because he finds his full name too cumbersome or is just used to the short form, his boss would call him 'Micha' (provided it is customary at that office to go by first name, else he would be 'Herr Schneider', of course). Shortening 'Michael' to 'Micha' would only done either by the person himself or close friends or friend-like coworkers.
    – Stephie
    Jun 10 '15 at 9:49
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    There's also a girl's name Maike, which isn't cognate with Michael but sounds like the English pronunciation of "Mike" with a schwa on the end. Jun 10 '15 at 15:54
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    @SteveJessop to make it even more complicated, I also know a male Maik or two (roughly homophonous to the English Mike)
    – rumtscho
    Jun 10 '15 at 15:55
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I'm from the decade where Michael was one of the most frequent names for boys, so I met my fair share of them. Personally, I found that this is one of the names that often remain unaltered, but with an abundance of "Michaels" in a class or group, abbreviations/nicknames were a simple way of distinguishing between them.

As it stands, abbreviations and nicknames follow no "standard", and many are regional or dialect versions of the name, but my first thoughts were:

  • Michi
    That's what most of my peers are called.

  • Micha
    Which avoids the diminuitive-like '-i' at the end.

  • Michl
    Which is a variant mostly from the southern parts of Germany. Not necessarily an abbreviation, simply the dialect version. Often people are officially named in standard German but addressed in the dialect variant. Note that there is also the symbolic figure Deutscher Michel, representing "the German".

Some may choose the English versions

  • Mike

  • Mick

    But when meeting someone with this name I would (instinctively) assume this to be the given name, not an abbreviation.

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    I knew a guy called "Micha". Maybe you'd like to add this to your answer, because besides the diminuitive "Michi" it's one of the more obvious ways to form an abbreviation.
    – dirkt
    Jun 10 '15 at 6:14
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    Michl gibt es auch in Österreich, auch wenn der deutsche Michl natürlich eine typische deutsche Figur ist. Ebenfalls in Österreich gebräuchlich: Michi und Mike. Jemanden Micha zu nennen fällt kaum einem Österreicher ein. Das trifft auch auf Mick zu. Nach Häufigkeit der Verwendung geordnet (für Ö): Sehr häufig: Michael und Michi. Selten: Mike und Michl. Noch nie gehört: Micha und Mick Jun 10 '15 at 7:20
  • "Michl" has a little negative touch, at least in Austria
    – Bernd
    Jun 10 '15 at 11:06
  • @Bernd Used to here in Swabia, too, being equated with "dumb country pumpkin", but seems have started a "comeback". I hear "Michl" more and more, with pride.
    – Stephie
    Jun 10 '15 at 11:08
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    Uh, I know quite a few - German ones, that is, @Hobbamok.
    – Stephie
    Oct 26 '21 at 12:28
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Micha is the most common one in my experience.

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    Please don’t just give one line answers, especially when there is a long, almost comprehensive answer above.
    – Jan
    Jun 10 '15 at 20:27

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