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

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Fri Mar 3 07:59:03 EST 2017

Exactly. The addition of "ein" makes the phrase metaphorical. Also, Willy
Brandt, then mayor of Berlin and later chancellor of West Germany, reviewed
and practiced the line with Kennedy before the speech. He found no fault
with it.

Whether or not one includes the "ein" and what difference it makes varies
depending on the dialect. Bavarian German, for instance, would tend to
include the "ein" in all situations. The Berlin dialect makes the
literal/metaphorical distinction. Other dialects hardly ever use the "ein."

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Peter Reitan
Sent: Friday, March 03, 2017 12:50 AM
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "Ich bin _ein_ Berliner" redux

>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

---------------------- Information from the mail header
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=
long since become accustomed to the sight of black-American GI=E2=80=99s 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=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

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