Sunday, September 18, 2016

I Am A Jelly Doughnut

In 1963, at the height of the cold war, John F. Kennedy went to this city and made a famous speech. Ich bin ein Berliner he proclaimed -  I am a Berliner.

However, some people said that wasn't proper German. He should have said Ich bin Berliner, the equivalent of saying I am American. Ein Berliner is form of jelly doughnut popular in Germany. So, people said, Kennedy announced that he was a jelly doughnut.

Well, according to Wikipedia, this is wrong. The article tells us:

There is a misconception that Kennedy made a risible error by saying Ich bin ein Berliner. By using the indefinite article "ein," he supposedly changed the meaning of the sentence from "I am a citizen of Berlin" to "I am a Berliner" (a Berliner being a type of German pastry, similar to a jelly doughnut).
The indefinite article is omitted in German when speaking of an individual's profession or residence but is still used when speaking in a figurative sense. Since the President was not literally from Berlin but declaring his solidarity with its citizens, "Ich bin ein Berliner" was the only way to express what he wanted to say.
Furthermore, although the word "Berliner" is used for a jelly doughnut in the north, west and southwest of Germany, it is not used in Berlin itself or the surrounding region, where the usual word is "Pfannkuchen."
What a downer. The photo above is of a Berliner, which we had with coffee at the top of the Berlin Tower this morning. American doughnuts are better.

That's it for now. On Monday we will be 19 hours from departure from Berlin to arrival in St. Louis with two connections. I've got a terrible week at work ahead. Many more pictures to edit, which we will get to when time permits.


William Kendall said...

It looks delicious- and I don't really go for doughnuts.

Jack said...

When I was in Berlin earlier this month, the guide said that Kennedy said it correctly.