Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Ich bin ein Berliner-The Jelly Doughnut Myth

Ich bin ein Berliner-The Jelly Doughnut Myth German Misnomers, Myths and Mistakes  Ã‚  Myth 6: JFK Did President Kennedy Say He Was a Jelly Doughnut? When I first read that there was a persistent claim that JFKs famous German phrase, Ich bin ein Berliner, was a gaffe that translates as I am a jelly doughnut. I was puzzled as there was absolutely nothing wrong with that sentence. And just like me, when Kennedy made that statement in a West Berlin speech in 1963, his German audience understood exactly what his words meant: I am a citizen of Berlin. They also understood that he was saying that he stood by them in their Cold War battle against the Berlin Wall and a divided Germany. No one laughed at or misunderstood President Kennedys words spoken in German. In fact, he had been provided help from his translators who obviously  knew the German language well. He wrote out the key phrase phonetically and practiced it before his speech in front of the Schà ¶neberger Rathaus (town hall) in Berlin, and his words were warmly received (Schà ¶neberg is a district of West-Berlin). And from a German teachers point of view, I have to say that John F. Kennedy had a pretty good German pronunciation. The ich very often causes English speakers serious trouble but not in this case. Nevertheless, this German myth has been perpetuated by teachers of German and other people who should know better. Although a Berliner is also a type of jelly doughnut, in the context used by JFK it could not have been misunderstood any more than if I told you I am a danish in English. You might think I was crazy, but you wouldnt think I was claiming to be a citizen of Denmark (Dnemark). Here is Kennedys full statement: All free men, wherever they live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, â€Å"Ich bin ein Berliner.† If you are interested in the transcription of the full speech, youll find it here at the BBC.    How did that myth evolve in the first place? Part of the problem here stems from the fact that in statements of nationality or citizenship, German often leaves off the ein. Ich bin Deutscher. or Ich bin gebà ¼rtiger (native-born)  Berliner   But in Kennedys statement, the ein was correct and not only expressed that he was one of them but also  emphasised  his message.And if that does not convince you yet, you should know that in Berlin a jelly doughnut is actually called ein Pfannkuchen, not ein Berliner like in almost all the rest of Germany. (In most of Germany,  der Pfannkuchen  means pancake. in other regions youd have to call it a Krapfen.) While over the years there must have been many translation or interpreting errors with U.S. public officials abroad, but luckily  and clearly this wasnt one of them. In my eyes the persistency of this myth also shows that the world really needs to learn more German and the world also certainly needs more Berliners. Which kind I leave to you. MORE   Previous Myth  |  Next Myth Original article by: Hyde Flippo Edited on the 25th of June 2015 by: Michael Schmitz

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