In the states it‘s common etiquette to say yes sir or yes ma’am. Is there a correlating German phrase?
Not really. There's no real equivalent to sir or ma'am either, except mein Herr and meine Dame, which are so over the top that you wouldn't use them unironically.
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There once were phrases, yes, but we don't use them anymore.
"Ja, mein Herr", "Ja, werte/gnädige Dame/Frau" but both are outfashioned. If you're talking to someone like a police officer, you could say "Ja, Herr Polizist", but even that sounds incredibly wrong to me.
If you're talking to someone like a police officer, you could say "Ja, Herr Polizist",
JAWOHL, HERR POLIZEIOBERMEISTER!
Make sure you get the rank right! I'm kidding, just in case people can't tell
Outside of a military context? Literal translation would be "Ja, mein Herr" and "Ja, Madam", but everybody would assume you are making fun of them. I cannot think of a phrase you could say unironically.
I am guessing that you are from the South East US... As far as I know outside of a military context, They aren't really used. Just like you don't hear 'Ma'am' in California.
Midwesterner here with significant family in the South, and can confirm that I pretty much only ever heard "yes sir" and "yes ma'am" in common usage when south of the Mason-Dixon.
That's not to say they're unheard of anywhere else, but just not in everyday use. Where I grew up, you'd pretty much use it as a hearty "yes", similar to a German "jawohl", to emphasize a point or to exaggerate importance.
as others have pointed out, it sounds as if you would subordinate you.
if you rephrase that, you can address people with their title, for example "selbstverständlich, herr doktor/ingenieur/rechtsanwalt; frau inspektor (if you know her rank)" etc. i think this is considered to be very formal in germany, but it's fairly common in austria.
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but it's fairly common in austria
I disagree, typically you'd just talk in a formal register and that's that.
Addressing someone by their occupation sounds very outdated and at most you would add the academic degree of that person in front of their name (like "Dr. Mustermann" or "Mag. Mustermann")
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