A doughnut is a doughnut


One of the more obscure TV channels has a habit of dropping 60-second 'celebrity news' bulletins into the middle of movies, and last night I failed to hit the remote quickly enough to avoid a gushing report on the German premier of the film Sex in the City. Which would be of no interest to the Engine Room, had not one of the stars (sorry I can't tell them apart) told the crowd of film buffs: "Ich bin ein Berliner".

The original use of this phrase, of course, was in President John F Kennedy's famous speech near the Berlin Wall in June 1963. He used it to warn the Russians that the USA would not abandon Berlin, which remained a thorn in the side of the Warsaw Pact.

Cynics have pointed out that JFK should have said “Ich bin Berliner” and that including the “ein” meant he was claiming to be a sort of pastry known as a berliner, rather than a resident of the beleagured city. (Presumably in the same way hamburgers and frankfurters are snacks or residents of Hamburg and Frankfurt, depending on the use of the indefinite article?)

No doubt the Germans, and Russians, knew exactly what the President meant as context is everything in such cases. And in the context of a film premier, the use of that defiant Cold War rallying call indicates that the self-important actress concerned is definitely a doughnut.

3 comments:

The Ridger, FCD said...

If you have watched that clip, you'll have noticed not one person laughed. Someone would have if it were indeed funny.

Ich bin Berliner means I'm from Berlin. But Ich bin ein Berliner! is a strong assertion. (We do the same thing in English - I'm American vs. I am an American!)

Ich bin nicht nur ein Berliner, ich bin ein Spandauer! says the bumper sticker...

Anonymous said...

At least you spelled it "doughnut." Lately all I've been seeing in print in the U.S. is the "donut" spelling.

I don't find that amusing, either.

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