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

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 3 01:50:26 EST 2017

>From the Atlantic:
Afterward it would be suggested that Kennedy had got the translation wrong—that by using the article ein before the word Berliner, he had mistakenly called himself a jelly doughnut. In fact, Kennedy was correct. To state Ich bin Berliner would have suggested being born in Berlin, whereas adding the word ein implied being a Berliner in spirit. His audience understood that he meant to show his solidarity.

From: Wilson Gray<mailto:hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: ‎3/‎2/‎2017 22:09
Subject: "Ich bin _ein_ Berliner" redux

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Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      "Ich bin _ein_ Berliner" redux

Arnold=E2=80=99s note,

"if you=E2=80=99re black [_in_ America and _many other places_] you never f=
orget 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=E2=80=99d think that Comrade had=
since become accustomed to the sight of black-American GI=E2=80=99s on the =
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=E2=80=99s 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

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

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