Date: Fri, 28 Nov 1997 23:55:33 -0500

From: "Jeutonne P. Brewer" jpbrewer[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]HAMLET.UNCG.EDU

Subject: Re: "Ich bin ein Berliner"

When my husband lived in Germany in the middle 60s (Cologne/Rhineland)

we asked out German friends and landladies/landlords about "Ich bin

ein Berliner." As Kendra Perry and Duane Campbell noted, the Rhineland

Germans explained that a Berliner was what we call a doughnut with a

jelly filling. They definitely did not view Kennedy's use of the

phrase as a disastrous gaffe. They recognized the humor in the

comment, but more important to them, they appreciated Kennedy's

attempt to use German. (These were blue collar workers not

college instructors.) The Berliner was a distinctive and widely

known pastry. I don't remember the distinction that Duane Campbell

pointed out about the use or non-use of "ein" except in the Kennedy

example. (I'm not as fluent in German now because I don't use it

very often.) For example, I don't think that "Ich bin ein

Rheinlaender" vs. "Ich bin Rheinlaender" would provoke a chuckle.


On Fri, 28 Nov 1997, Kendra Banks Perry wrote:

When I was in Austria studying German, my teacher told us that the word

"Berliner" does indeed refer to a jelly doughnut in some areas (every

little district seems to have different words for pastries). He said

that Kennedy's remark was, however, easily understood with its original

intent and was not the disastrous gaffe some people make it out to be.

Kendra Banks Perry



Jeutonne P. Brewer, Associate Professor

Department of English

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro, NC 27412

email: jpbrewer[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]