[Ads-l] "Ich bin _ein_ Berliner" redux

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 3 01:08:27 EST 2017

Arnold’s note,

"if you’re black [_in_ America and _many other places_] you never forget it"

gives me an opening to explain why, despite the discussions here and the
fact that, surely, no one would have allowed the President to make a stupid
blunder, I continue to feel that JFK "ought" to have said,

"Ich bin _0_ Berliner."

When I was stationed in the former West Germany/West Berlin, back when
Germany was still under occupation and you’d think that Comrade had long
since become accustomed to the sight of black-American GI’s on the streets,
nevertheless, I must have been asked thousands of times,

"Sind Sie _0_ Afrikaner?"

and never once

"Sind Sie _ein_ Afrikaner?"

Maybe it has to do with the fact that the continent of Afrika is a vague
location, whereas the city of Berlin is specific. Or maybe it’s the
difference between

Are you _0_ African?


Are you _an_ African _?

Or not.


All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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