Ich bin ein Berliner

I was in the local grocery store today, and I happened to pass by a package of these:

Berliner

Berliner

I have heard of them solely through a skit done by the comedian Eddie Izzard, who was poking fun at John F. Kennedy’s speech in front of the Berlin wall in the 1960’s. The direct translation of “Ich bin ein Berliner” is “I am a jelly donut,” because as you can see by the picture, the Berliner is a type of donut.

As I was looking up the above link, I found that there is quite some debate on whether or not Mr. Kennedy said that he was a donut, or that an urban legend has spun out of a mis-translation. Because of the subtlies of the German language, it seems that Kennedy was trying to say “I am one with the people of Berlin,” or “I am a citizen of Berlin.” A detailed explination of the translation can be found here. And even Wikipedia has an excellent article on both the speech itself, and the history of the urban legend. Lastly, though this article is a few years old, it expresses the surge of feeling that Kennedy brought to the German people that day, and what his words (i.e. the rest of his speech) meant to him.

forbidden donut

forbidden donut

I have not yet been able to sign up for German language courses myself, so I really have no room to comment. All I know is that I have learned a bit more about President Kennedy, have powdered sugar all over my table, and jelly running down my chin.

Advertisements