Sunday, July 20, 2008

another jelly doughnut

I haven't mentioned politics in a long time, Nancy....

In 1963, President Kennedy delivered a speech in Berlin, Germany that included one of the most famous sentences of his Presidency: "Ich bin ein Berliner" -- meant to mean, "I am a Berliner" -- a citizen of Berlin. The Berlin Wall had just gone up, the city was glaringly divided. So he was saying, We are with you, citizens of Berlin, ready to stand against the division, the Communists, whatever...

But to many Germans, at least supposedly, the word "Berliner" is better known as the popular name of a certain jelly-filled pastry. The legend goes that JFK was inadvertedly saying to the Germans, when translated, "I am a jelly doughnut" (I've wondered what he would have said if Hamburg had been the divided city instead -- "I am a Hamburger"?)..

This week, Barack Obama, candidate for president, is on a tour of various countries, including Afghanistan and Iraq (and some photo ops with the troops), and then on to a couple of countries in Europe, including Germany... I'm not sure what he'll be doing in Germany, but at one point there was discussion of having a rally at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, where he would make a speech in front of tens of thousands of cheering Germans... Now, make no mistake, I'll vote for the dude, and I understand that he is quite popular in Europe (the rock-star thing again), but isn't this a little weird -- and maybe a bit arrogant -- for a U.S. presidential candidate to be making what are essentially campaign speeches in other countries?.. We'll see how this all goes this week.


We said Auf Wiedersehn to our German girls, Jana and Saskia, this past Wednesday and were surprised how much we missed them after they were gone!


Anonymous said...

Hi Howard
Re: "Berliner"
As in English, some words in German can have two different meanings. In the context of JFK's
quote it does mean "I am a jelly...". If he had said "Ich bin
Berliner" he would have been correct. However, his message was understood, and that is what counts. It's a bit of joke on
the speechwriters of this world!

Howard said...

thanks, Grietje! :-)