Talk:Ich bin ein Berliner/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Let us all agree from this day forth, We are All jelly doughnuts! Who would no want to be? 17:23, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Berliner Ambiguity?

"According to the context of the speech, Kennedy meant that he stood together with West Berliners in their struggle to maintain their freedom against communist aggression."

Well, it shall be be reformulated in post-Coldwar language.

Berlin was an allied enclave in Eastern Europe back in that time. Part of Western Germany

While linguistic ambiguos nobody will think of it. "Ich bin ein Amerikaner" is ambiguos as well.

Agree - Besides which, The USA were just as intransigent as the USSR in the cold war. Kennedy made it perspicuous that he would use force if necessary to preserve the status quo in Berlin, and ran through a couple of defense measures.--Knucmo2 13:44, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

This is an urban legend.

1) Native German speakers do not think that the phrase is ambigious.

2) There are no known published references to this story at the time of the speech. The first published claim that Kennedy made a grammar error was a New York Times op-ed piece in 1987 from a writer from Gainesville, Florida.

The story seems to have originated in central Florida in the mid-1980's. I Chenyu remember

hearing the story from my high school German teacher in 1986, and I've met people who heard

the story before it was published in 1987 and they all seem to be from central Florida.

Indeed: "Ich bin ein Berliner" is not really ambigious enough to be funny. "Ich bin ein Hamburger" might make a German smirk, though. -- Eloquence

Good thing he wasn't in vienna, "Ich bin ein Wiener", .... Now that would have been embarrassing. For me the whole discussion "Ich bin ein Berliner" vs "Ich bin Berliner" really does not make sense. Of course the latter has not ambiguity, but both correctly mean the same. It's like dicussing "I am american" vs "I am an American". where I see no difference. But then I am a native german speaker, so I may not know the difference between the americans ;-) -- MartinBiely

Regardless of the comment made above, kennedy made a gramatical error that changed the entire meaning of the sentance he was trying to say. In german it is very important that sentence structure and grammer is followed to the letter of the law because if it is not, then the whole sentance changes meaning, and often times, means nothing at all without certin words, ot because in Kennedys case, a word was added. It would be like saying that i is a good speaker english... you get the point of the sentance, but it really doesn't make sense. Itjust makes Kennedy sound like an uneducated bafoon... even though he wasn't... it was his translators fault.

I plan to go to South America and tell everyone "Soy de Los Angeles" (which is true). Do you think anyone will assume I'm an emissary of God?

There is some dispute over whether Kennedy made an embarassing error. The first published claim that Kennedy made a grammar error was a New York Times op-ed piece in 1987 from a writer from Gainesville, Florida.

I've removed the above line from the article. Only Ed Poor seems to be claiming that it was an embarassing error, and he hasn't attempted to justify this. --Zundark, 2001 Dec 14

  1. I think the whole article is stupid. Unless you have some proof that people at the time thought he was calling himself a pastry, why mention it at all? It distracts from his anti-communist message.
  2. On the other hand, if you mention the pastry thing as a way of refuting the urban legend, I'd like that. --Ed Poor

I thought that debunking the "urban legend" was the whole point of this article. I didn't write any of it, however, so I can't be sure. --Zundark, 2001 Dec 14

So what is the "urban legend" here? The phrase clearly can be interpreted both ways. The phrase was certainly understood in context. However, the phrase is also inherently ambiguous. (I disagree with the comment above. The reference to "native German speakers" is not relevant because the idiom is specific to Berlin. No Berliner would say ich bin ein Berliner even as a point of emphasis.) When I lived in Berlin (1985-1989), the people I talked to who remembered or talked about the speech mentioned the phrase and it's ambiguity with a sense of fondness - a sense that it made Kennedy's speech stronger and more personal because his command of local idiom was imperfect. They enjoyed telling me about the jelly donut. While I can not confirm that my experience in Berlin preceded this newspaper story in Florida, I have trouble believing that it could have spread so quickly and been accepted as fact in Berlin itself. Rossami 00:32 16 May 2003 (UTC)

Speech or no speech, Berliners are not donuts. A Berliner, although it has much in common with a donut (it's sweet, often jelly-filled and fried), is topologically different from a donut. All donuts have a hole i.e. they are toruses (tori?). No Berliner has a hole i.e. they are topologically equivalent to a sphere. Mmmmh, donuts... 17:41 26 Jun 2003 (UTC)

They ARE called donuts, at least in Canada, whether it has a hole or not. --Kvasir 12:13, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

1. There is a wiki-page on donuts in wikipedia, from where I think, I triggered off this discussion. It explains all the different forms of donuts. Maybe it would be good to link this article to there.

2. The page itself is obviously of interest, and personaly I am quite amazed, that you can focus on Florida as the origin.

3. There is no danger, that the anti-communism thing is being neglected, since obviously it's the donut that made the speech famous in the US. Over here it's more the fact, that Kennedy wanted to give proof of his personal pity for the split town as an act of inhumanity - may it be by communist or whatever agression.

3. Ambiguity: as a native speaker I feel that nobody will firstly think of the ambiguity, when hearing the phrase. Even for Hamburgers no one will think of people from Hamburg, since the food is pronounced the english way, the people are pronounced the german way (something like Humm - boorger) I have the feeling, that it depends on what is better known: the food or the town, as is the case with the smelly Limburger cheese. So if you desperatly need an ambiguity, take the cheese :-)

-- Guest, Oct.21.2003

What's funny is having taken 2 years of the language from an instructor who was raised in Germany... She also raised the point that berliner was a word that meant jelly donut. it could be a meaning that's indiginous to where the story arose. Just as in NYC, cookies with chocolate and vanilla frosting are refered to as "black and whites" and in upstate NY, they're refered to as half moon cookies. Same cookie, different name. -- another guest. 9.9.2004

grammatically speaking, nationalities (incl. cities) do not get an article. he therefore should have said "Ich bin Berliner." 11/16/04

natively speaking, we can add articles to nationalities etc. but since we normaly don't do it, it sounds like something special was said when someone still does it - don't know what your German-book/-teacher tells you, but that's how we speak over here -- Guest 24 Apr 2005

Shifting Gears to the Simpsons Reference

I know this isn't a simpsons article, but is Mayor Quimby really JFK? I've always seen him as more of a teddy or some sort of amalgam of the whole family from Joe on down... bimalc 10 Aug 2005

  • No, I see him as JFK. Their voices both have the same quality to them. I can't put my finger on it, but it's a slightly monotonous way of speaking with few major changes. HereToHelp 22:48, August 21, 2005 (UTC)

Different example

I changed the example from Frankfurter to New Yorker. I'm not a native speaker of German but my impression is that the phrase isn't really ambiguous unless someone searches for another meaning. Going by the article on ambiguity Ich bin ein Berliner isn't really ambigious. Here are similar things in English: I have Danish blood in me. Your ancestors were pastries? I deposited $100 in the bank You put $100 on the side of a river? No one would actaully think of the alternative meanings unless pointed out. With the Frankfurter it is clear what is meant but it doesn't take much of an imagination to think of the other meaning. Hence I changed it to New Yorker since that actually requires some thought to think of the magazine.

Can we get a native German speaker(s) to offer their opinion(s)? commonbrick 21:56, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)

As my dad would point out, "What about Hamburg?" Paul Dehaye 08:19, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)
If someone says "I'm a Hamburger" people will think of the food first and giggle. If someone says "I'm a New Yorker" no one will think of the magazine first. I don't think any German speakers would think of the pastry (Berliner) first. I'm going to come up with some more examples of different levels of ambiguity and see if a German speaker can come here and comment... commonbrick
But notice that the idiom for claiming to be from Berlin is Ich bin Berliner (no article). If a foreigner were to make an analogous mistake in English and say I am a Danish, then assuming his/her listeners were more likely to believe what they were told than to suppose that a mistake had been made, the only correct inference would in fact be that the speaker is a sweet pastry. 09:41, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Doing word to word translations can be confusing. Danish is a bad example since it has a different word for the adjective and noun describing people from Denmark. 'Danish' is an adjective (when describing someone from Denmark) and 'Dane' is a noun. However "Danish" is also a pastry in English. Adding or deleting the article can make a big difference - "I am Danish" "I am a Danish" "I am a Dane" "I am Dane". If you use other examples, like [German, American, Canadian, etc.] where the word is a noun and adjective it sounds fine. "I am German" "I am a German"
I think there are different levels of ambiguity. If someone says "I'm a Hamburger", most people are going to think of the food first, but still understand what they mean. If someone says "I'm part Danish", the possibility that they were talking about a pastry wouldn't enter someones mind. commonbrick 16:01, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The Danish example IS precisely the example fitting in this article similar to the infamous Berliner phrase. If Kennedy was to say this today "I am a Danish" in the Danish language, and THEN translated back into English, yep, it would give ME a giggle. Also the current article presents the event with the POV that it was an urban myth as fact. I think it is neccessary to adjust the tone to a more neutral one. --Kvasir 12:13, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)
The Danish example is bad because it would never be translated as "I am a Danish". If you are trying to say you are a citizen of Denmark you'd say "I am a Dane" or "I am Danish". The sentence "I am a Danish" doesn't make sense if you are saying you're from Denmark. commonbrick 18:26, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)
That is exactly why it is similar to "Ich bin ein Berliner". I see what you were saying about noun and adjective. The reason this phrase went down into the history books was because of the incorrect use of the article. It is also pointless to search for an exact equivalent situation grammatically and culturally in another language to mirror that. --Kvasir 18:36, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I agree it is pointless to find a translation - there is none. I just added some external links that talk about it. It seems adding the article 'ein' means you are LIKE a citizen of Berlin. I'll probably make things more confusing by trying to explain it so I'll let the articles do it :). commonbrick 18:50, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)
At any rate, the use of the indefinite article in German language "origin" sentences ("I am <insert placename here>.") should be discussed/referenced in the article, for the sole reason that native English speakers who have learned a little German might be confused/misinformed as to native German speakers' usage, which is, at least in part, the reason for the meme's continued propagation. (e.g. I was taught that it was incorrect to use a definite article in expressing belonging to country/profession - "Ich bin Metzger" not "Ich bin ein Metzger.") 23:58, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I found the rule here (source in German) It is used when refering to an instance of a class (such as Kennedy being an instanciation of the idealistic class 'Berliner' rather than being a physical 'Berliner'). By this he defined 'Berliner' as being a classification for all free human beings. By the way: I tend to believe that this is something which is valid in most european languages, isn't it? -- 16:20, 12 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Now it just needs to be added to the article :). Some of the external links discuss the use of 'ein' too so you might want to check them out. commonbrick 00:06, 13 Jun 2005 (UTC)

oh boy - I AM a native speaker, I have not emigrated as a child and I have managed to get a decent degree over here, so I do think I know the meaning of words in my language. Let me tell you: the article is excellent at the moment :-) This donut-thing doesn't pop up to people in Germany, not in Berlin nor elsewhere. Maybe they used it in Berlin to confuse a stranger from the states to test his language skills - ever thought of that? (I think that's called observer bias or something like that) Ever wonder, why the German Wiki-Article doesn't even mention the donut-thing with one word? As I stated in the discussion section for the donut article two years ago, Kennedy is very appreciated for this phrase over here. Let's create another urban myth instead: the urban myth "Ich bin ein Berliner" was deliberately created by conservative forces in Florida =:-O trying to discredit an internationally well appreciated democratic president :-D -- Guest 24 Apr 2005

Other Examples

All of these are ambiguous. Some will get a few chuckles, others won't. The meanings are clear with the right context but some will get a giggle because everyone will think of the alternative meaning first. I've listed the first thing I would think of first, followed by other interpretations.

No chuckles
I am a New Yorker. - from New York City, magazine, Chrysler New Yorker
I am part Danish. - ancestors were from Denamrk, pastry
I ate a Hamburger - ate food, ate a person from Hamburg
I am a Hamburger. - food, from the city of Hamburg
I am a Frankfuter. - hot dog, from the city of Frankfurt

commonbrick 18:45, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

"Interestingly, Kennedy did get a laugh a moment after he first used the phrase, but deliberately." This whole section needs explanation, because the section immediately preceeding it says that the phrase was greet with cheers and applause. Explanations? DJ Clayworth 22:00, 13 Jun 2005 (UTC)

so lächerlich

This article and discussion are really ridiculous. Nobody in Germany ever misunderstood Kennedy. All the people knew what he meant, nobody thought of anything else than "Ich bin ein Bürger Berlins". There is no better statement Kennedy could give. You state "Ich bin Berliner" if you are asked "Aus welcher Stadt kommst du?", but if you proudly announcing "Ich bin ein Berliner" everybody would use "ein".

Please cut down the article, this urban legend Quatsch is based on some poor jokes some people made later, when Kennedys speech got part of Popkultur. From my point of view a little sentence like "Statements that Kennedy was misunderstood for having stated "I'm a jelly donut" (Berliner can mean both a citizen of Berlin and a kind of donut in Germany) because of wrong use of German grammar is an urban legend and just wrong" (or something like that) would be enough about that.

Entschuldigung, my English isn't the best, when I got embarrassed of a bad article. --::Slomox >< 16:26, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

You are so completely right. Discussing about this is so completely rediculous and non-sense.
I can't believe any non-native speaker would make that kind of an issue of this non-issue thing that a native speaker wouldn't even think discussing about; especially Berlin-based ones.
I bet this once started as a filler for some kind of [Sommerloch]. --Pixelpope User talk:Pixelpope 22 Aug 2005 (CET)

"about as likely to be misinterpreted ..."

I don't think the question is misinterpretation. Of course nobody thought that Kennedy was actually claiming to be a jelly doughnut. The question is whether some people in the crowd were amused by the apparent double-entendre. The statement is not ambiguous, because it was clear what he meant; it has, however, the possibility of being a double-entendre. (I know a German who is not a Berliner and who was there. She understood exactly what he meant, but still found it mildly amusing.) Whether it occurred to the majority of German-speakers present is what is in question.

That being said, the "analogous example" is not analogous at all. There is no analogous example in English. The grammatical issue at work in the sentence "Ich bin ein Berliner" has no equivalent in English. In English, the article is -always- used in such a sentence, and therefore the is no question of ambiguity.

By the way, is there an article on the actual speech itself? I don't know enough about the speech to write the article, but it certainly deserves one. While the "Berliner" sentence is famous, the speech itself was far more important. - Che Nuevara, the Democratic Revolutionary 20:45, 26 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I can't imagine, that anybody in the crowd was amused by the statement, supposed they weren't a bit weird, because it isn't really funny. You know one German, I am a German and know hundreds or thousands of Germans, never met one stating he or she was amused by this. --::Slomox >< 30 June 2005 18:09 (UTC)
The bottom of the article has a link to wikisource which has the speech online. As for the article I think it can be added or dropped in an English sentence: "I am American" "I am an American". Both mean the same thing. commonbrick 1 July 2005 00:53 (UTC)
Of course noone thought he was claiming to be a jelly doughnut. And I trust Slomox, if noone was amused by the "double-entendre", noone was. It could be that they didn't expect German so abruptly. HereToHelp 22:54, August 21, 2005 (UTC)
"Ich bin ein Berliner" and "Ich bin Berliner" is the same thing. There is no difference, there is no other meaning and both is grammatical right. The only problem is that the jelly doughnuts are also called Berliner. I´ve often heared a joke like: He said the wrong phrase, he wanted to say I want a Berliner ;-) Jonny84 21:06, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

It Must Be Jelly 'Cause Jam Don't Shake Like That

Someone had changed all instances of "jelly" to "jam" (i.e. "jam doughnuts"), saying that "jelly" is only used in North America. I have reverted it back to "jelly" for several reasons:

  • Do people in other (English speaking) countries really say "jam doughnut" instead of "jelly doughnut"?
  • Even if they did, this is an article about an American president, and the urban legend originated in America. No one in the US would ever say "jam doughnut". Certainly not in Florida, where the legend originated. And I'm sure the original NY Times letter had "jelly", not "jam".
  • All the discussions contain "jelly doughnut". As does the link at the bottom of the page.
  • A Google search yields only 903 hits for "jam doughnut", and 14,600 hits for "jelly doughnut".

--JW1805 28 June 2005 16:33 (UTC)

See the articles for jam and jelly. They are different things. To most people outside of North America, "jam" is what North Americans call "jelly", and "jelly" is something different. The article needs to clarify what is meant by the use of "jelly". I thought I made a good attempt at it but someone reverted my changes. OptimusPrime 2 July 2005 18:19 (UTC)
There does seem to be some confusion in the various articles. In common American speech, "Jam" is a fruit paste with pulp. "Jelly" is a fruit paste without pulp. "Jelly" can also mean other sorts of artificial fruit-like spreads, and in general other gelatinous materials (like petroleum jelly). But not gelatine (which is usually just called "Jell-O", which is a brand name). In any case, "jelly doughnuts" (regardless of how much pulp the filling contains) are always called "jelly doughnuts", and never "jam doughnuts". Maybe what is needed is a Jelly Doughnut article, or a note in Berliner_(pastry). --JW1805 2 July 2005 18:56 (UTC)
You cannot assume that what is common in your country is common internationally. What North Americans (or maybe just USAians?) call "jelly" is called "jam" in most other countries. By extension, what North Americans (or maybe just USAians?) call "jelly doughnuts" are called "jam doughnuts" elsewhere. This story has spread far beyond the USA. Most people/countries call it the "jam doughnut" urban myth. It wouldn't make any sense for them to call it "jelly doughnut". The article should be unambiguous. OptimusPrime 3 July 2005 04:17 (UTC)
It just doesn't seem logical, when describing an American urban legend about an American president to use a phrase ("jam doughnut") that does not exist in America. That would be like calling the comic strip Gasoline Alley "Petrol Alley" because the term "petrol" is used in other countries. That being said, I agree that the article should be unambiguous. Maybe having both phrases is a good compromise (but, it does seem a bit redundant). --JW1805 3 July 2005 05:35 (UTC)
Not just Americans. I live in New Brunswick, Canada, and the pulp/no pulp devision defines jam vs. jelly here, as well. (Actually as an neurotic child, I used to get miffed when people called them by the opposite name.) I also support "jelly donut" as it is the only expression I have ever heard used. User:BalthCat 2006-02-20
Doing a google search for "I am a jelly doughnut" and "I am a jam doughnut" and using the two doughnut spellings gives 1560 hits for jelly an 117 for jam. Clearly jelly is the more common translation. Just becasue "jam doughnut" is more common in the rest of the world doesn't mean we have to use it. It's an urban legend started in the US about an American president, hence use American English words. I'm putting it back to jelly doughnut. commonbrick 3 July 2005 05:53 (UTC)
Google measures web usage only. It is not an acceptible measure of language usage as a whole. This is not an issue of US English versus other forms. The article needs to be unambiguous, which means that it needs to mention all variations of the legend. That is what I have been trying to do. Maybe there is a better way to do it (I am open to suggestions), but I see nothing wrong with my version. It mentions the two most popular versons of the myth, giving preference to the original US version (by mentioning it first) in the heading. At the beginning of the third paragraph of that section, the origins of the myth are explained as "The jelly doughnut urban legend apparently arose in Florida in the 1980s". In the article, "jelly" is used in reference to the myth in the USA, and "jam" is used elsewhere. As the jelly article shows, referring to "jelly" as "jam" is a regional variation peculiar to North America. The myth itself is called "jam doughnut" in many countries.
Basically, the article should be equally comprehensible to everyone, whether they are from North America or elsewhere. - OptimusPrime July 3, 2005 06:09 (UTC)
Google is the closest thing we have to measuring a language. Every search ("I am a jelly/jam doughnut/donut" and "jelly/jam doughnut/donut") done using google shows jelly as the more commonly used word, but somehow jam is less ambigious? You said "the article should be equally comprehensible to everyone, whether they are from North America or elsewhere" so how is using jam anymore comprehensible. Neither jam or jelly will be more comprehensible or less ambigious than the other. I'm putting it back to jelly - not because it is more comprehensible - but because that is the more commonly used phrase according to google, because that was the original word in the urban legend, and because it was an American president giving a speech. I've created a little list below for reasons to use jam vs jelly, feel free to add to it. commonbrick 3 July 2005 16:26 (UTC)
I always heard it as jelly doughnut. I've also always heard it as truth, rather than urban legend, so I guess I'm not a good source. HereToHelp 22:50, August 21, 2005 (UTC)


  • Used in more countries


  • Used by almost 75% of native English speakers
  • More hits using google
  • "jelly/jam doughnut/donut" - Jelly 39,200 and Jam 1,521
  • "I am a jelly/jam doughnut/donut" - Jelly 1,560 and Jam 117
  • Was the orignal word used in the urban legend
  • Speech given by an American president

I like the new version. Kudos to JW1805. commonbrick 3 July 2005 16:42 (UTC)

  • English is an international language, so counting only "native" speakers is pointless. Millions of people worldwide use it as a secondary language, and often use it fluently. Some countries (e.g. India) have English as an official language, despite most citizens not learning it as their first language.
  • Google stats are next to useless. Web use is not world use.
  • Nobody is arguing that jam was used in the original legend, or that the speesch was not given by a US president. You are attacking a straw man.
With that said, I don't mind the new version. I think it should be understandable enough to non-USAians. - OptimusPrime July 4, 2005 00:11 (UTC)

I'm not going to aruge over jelly and jam anymore. We have an article we can both agree on so lets just drop it. commonbrick 4 July 2005 02:04 (UTC)

could we discuss this here: Talk:Berliner_(pastry) this page is about Kennedy, not about what a Berliner_(pastry) is --androl

The article for Berliner refers to jam, rather than jelly. As such, would it be fair to say that a berliner is not the same thing as a jelly doughnut even by American standards? Referring to a German pastry by a uniquely American term seems wrong to me. Mezziekins 11:30, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

We have been through this several times already. The term "jelly doughnut" is used simply because that is what the urban legend usually asserts: "I am a jelly doughnut" - which Kennedy did not say. A Pfannkuchen is similar, but not the same as a jelly doughnut, and it's not usually filled with jam or jelly (the latter term not usually used in this context outside North America), but with plum sauce. Please read through the discussion; you'll probably find that your concerns have been addressed. Regards,  ProhibitOnions  (T) 15:32, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Laughter after the phrase?

Some people say there was laughter after the phrase, some say it was applause On the German page I read there was laughter because Kennedy thanked his translator for translating his German phrase into German

Follow the external link at the end of the article to hear the speech for yourself. There was applause after "Ich bin ein Berliner", no laughter. commonbrick 12:42, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
I added the laughter into the German page, because I found it in this article here - someone must have changed it in the meantime :-) -- Guest

Anonymous reverts

I spent some time rewriting and, I hope, improving the article, only to have it immediately reverted several times, mostly by anonymous users such as, who used a disingenuous edit description ("struggle rather than rivalry") to conceal the revert.

The problems with the older article, which I have sought to correct, are:

  • It appears to assert that an urban legend is true ("As a result of Kennedy's improper use of German grammar...") False. (I live in Berlin, and I've met Robert Lochner, who was fully bilingual; and again, the speech and the phrase were tested on the Berlin leadership, not pulled out of thin air).
  • It contains original research, such as claims about Kennedy's grammar and the statement that the German Ausländer is translated as "outlander" (it means "foreigner").
  • It turned into a meandering discussion about jam vs. jelly doughnut, which is irrelevant (and was inaccurate) and belongs on a different page if it is worthy of analysis.
  • It gave no context to Kennedy's speech, one of the most important of the postwar era.
  • It was written unclearly, with no germane introduction to the legend, meandering passages, etc.

If you think this edit needs change, by all means change and improve it, that's what Wikipedia is for. But immediate reversion of a substantial edit is vandalism. ProhibitOnions 07:09:38, 2005-09-10 (UTC)

  • There was a long discussion above about the fact that "jelly doughnuts" are called "jam doughnuts" outside North America, and to avoid confusion, this was explicitly stated in the older version of the article. Your edit completely removed this information. --JW1805 15:03, 10 September 2005 (UTC)
JW1805, the attention paid to the "jelly/jam" issue, in terms of this article and its historical importance, is many times more than necessary for disambiguation. The urban legend, which is common in the US but -- according to the article -- only there, uses the American form of the word. I don't think the confusion between jam and jelly is very great, because even many Americans use the terms interchangeably (there was a famous ad using this as a hook, actually). I rate the entire need to reference "jam doughnuts" irrelevant given the focus of this article; indeed, I find it parochial. If an article referenced a murder placing his victim in the trunk, do we need a paragraph explaining that in England, it's called a boot? And then another explaining that in America, a boot means footwear? --Dhartung | Talk 18:04, 10 September 2005 (UTC)
Exactly. Even if a lengthy discussion of doughnut types were necessary, the urban legend section in the previous version began with the convoluted, off-topic sentence "The jam-filled doughnuts known to Americans and Canadians as jelly doughnuts (called jam doughnuts elsewhere), are called Berliners outside Berlin (but usually referred to as Pfannkuchen in Berlin itself)." I replaced it with "A common urban legend falsely asserts that Kennedy made a grammatical error and referred to himself as a pastry, rather than a citizen of Berlin." Which actually has something to do with the urban legend.
JW1805, I did not "completely remove [the] information" referring to doughnut terminology. I mentioned both terms, so anyone unable to grasp what a jelly doughnut is would see the term "jam-filled doughnut" a few words later. As it is, Pfannkuchen are not usually filled with either jam or jelly, but with plum sauce, so going into the fine details of what "Americans and Canadians" call a similar item is a little irrelevant. ProhibitOnions, 2005-09-11
It makes sense to me, but the original problem was that English-speakers outside of North America are supposedly confused by the term "jelly-doughnut", since "jelly" means something different. So, the meandering sentence was the result of a compromise which specificaly spelled out that a "jelly-doughnut" in North America is equivalent to a "jam-doughnut" elsewhere.--JW1805 21:31, 11 September 2005 (UTC)
Ich bin ein English-speaker outside North America myself, and am not confused. (Uproarious laughter!) I've edited the text a little more today, hopefully it is now even clearer than it was before as to what was meant. Pfannkuchen/Berliner are, as I have written, filled doughnuts. A similar thing called a jelly doughnut exists in a part of the world where this urban legend arose, made clear by context. But now that I think about it, West Berlin was only 82 km away from the Polish People's Republic, and there the equivalent pastries were called pączki... ProhibitOnions 00:10:11, 2005-09-13 (UTC)
What was relevant was the following sentence in the older edit, which stated unequivocally that the nonsensical legend was true: "As a result of Kennedy's improper use of German grammar, his statement was amusingly analagous to ("I am a jelly doughnut", or "I am a jam doughnut")." The fact that the article repeats an easily disprovable falsehood as fact ought to have been of a little more concern, but the aforementioned anonymous users reverted this several times. Nor did the earlier version mention anything of importance about the speech, which was one of the most memorable and significant of the past 60 years.
I'm not claiming that the revision I did is the final word on the topic — on the contrary, Dhartung's,'s, and Assawyer's additions and edits have already made it better, and I have also added some more background detail. But immediate, repeated reverts, particularly those labeled as something else, are not nice. ProhibitOnions 00:01:47, 2005-09-11 (UTC)
Since Berlin once had a large Jewish population, and there are a lot of Jews in the US, perhaps we should also mention that in Hebrew these are called "סופגניות" (sufganiyoth)? Tomer TALK 20:14, September 11, 2005 (UTC)
Sure, but then we'd have to have a whole discussion on Sufjan Stevens. Are we sure there's room in the article? --Dhartung | Talk 21:05, 11 September 2005 (UTC)
The Kennedys are from Martha's Vineyard, so we should probably include a discussion of New England dialects of American English as well... Tomer TALK 06:07, September 12, 2005 (UTC)

Page protection

Thanks to the usual vandal, this time masquerading as "Prohibit0nions" (with an 0 instead of an O), I have requested that this page be protected. ProhibitOnions 17:23, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

The urban legend is much older than the article says

I first heard this legend (and believed it and passed it on, I'm afraid) in high school in Wisconsin sometime during 1971 or early 1972. It did not begin in Florida in the 1980s as the article claims. -- 23:41, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

"A common urban legend asserts that Kennedy made an embarrassing grammatical error by saying "Ich bin ein Berliner," referring to himself not as a citizen of Berlin, but as a common pastry.

The legend stems from a play on words with Berliner, the name given to a doughnut variant filled with jam or plum sauce that is thought to have originated in Berlin. While this "jelly doughnut" is indeed common to Berlin, it is only known as Pfannkuchen (pan cake) in the city and nearby regions. Other parts of Germany picked up the pastry under the name of Berliner Pfannkuchen, shortened to Berliner.

According to the legend, Kennedy should have said "Ich bin Berliner" to mean "I am a person from Berlin." By adding the indefinite article ein, it is claimed, his statement implied he was a non-human Berliner, thus "I am a jelly doughnut". In the legend, the statement was followed by uproarious laughter.

This urban legend is unknown in Germany, where Kennedy's speech is considered a landmark in the country's postwar history. The term "Berliner" for the pastry sounds strange to people in Berlin. Common souvenirs in Berlin depicting a doughnut covered with the inscription "Ich bin ein Berliner," which are often thought by American tourists to refer to this legend, represent little more than a play on words.

There is no grammatical error in Kennedy's statement; the indefinite article does not change its meaning. In German, statements of profession are often made without an article, thus "Ich bin Arzt" (I am a doctor). However, "Ich bin ein Arzt," while less common, is not a mistake. Conversely, with statements of origin "Ich bin ein Brandenburger" (I am from Brandenburg) is more common than "Ich bin Brandenburger"; however, both are correct. Although both forms may be used interchangeably, the article "ein" can be used as a form of emphasis: it implies "just one of many." As Kennedy did indeed stress the "ein", the usage was, according to German linguist Jürgen Eichhoff [1], "not only correct, but the one and only correct way of expressing in German what the President intended to say.""

No, I don't think it really is a misconception, I have before had confirmations from native speakers of the "language" that it really was a mistake and he should have said "Ich bin Berliner."Myrtone (the strict Australian wikipedian)(talk)

Anjouli was there

Just for the record I was there and heard the speech live. I agree with ProhibitOnions. (And anyone who impersonates deserves an infinite ban.) --Anjouli 07:55, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Wow! ProhibitOnions 14:27, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

More Jelly Donuts

The part about laughter in the crowd at Kennedy's German is almost certainly apocryphal. The intent of his words was clear. Kennedy paid a compliment to the citizens of Berlin by speaking that phrase in their language. It's hard to convey the siege mentality of West Berlin during the Cold War era. I visited as the two Germanies were preparing to reunite. Any adult in the crowd who attended Kennedy's speech was old enough to remember the Berlin airlift. They welcomed the statement of support from the most powerful statesman in the world.

Having said that, every instructor in every German course I ever took made a point of explaining Kennedy's construction as a grammatical error - a forgivable one in its context, but one that we should never emulate in formal settings. This began in 1983, four years before the "legend" supposedly originated. Most of these instructors were professors of German at Columbia University and native speakers of the language. My own grandmother, a native German speaker who worked as a translator for Allied intelligence during World War II, agreed that Kennedy made a mistake to use the preposition "ein." None of these native speakers offered the reasoning now cited about figurative usage in Kennedy's defense, although they explained many other subtleties and idiomatic distinctions about the German language.

The particular turn of phrase is so associated with Kennedy that a political cartoon in Der Stern paraphrased it around 1990. The West German seat of government had been in the city of Bonn and an overwhelming majority vote agreed to move the unified capital to its historic seat in Berlin. In the cartoon a lonely politician stood on an office building ledge, looking at the sidewalk far below as if contemplating suicide while holding a sign that read, "Ich bin ein Bonner." (Figuratively, "I would like to keep the capital in Bonn.") Part of the cartoon's wit is its implicit denigration of minority opinion by association with Kennedy's mistaken phrasing.

When I visited Germany I sometimes asked about this phrase. I was relatively fluent at the time so this usually arose as part of a long conversation in German. The universal reaction I received from ordinary Germans was that everybody knew Kennedy made a slight error. Technically he called himself a donut, they agreed, but German grammar is so complex that non-natives butcher it regularly. What mattered was Kennedy's message of support. English speakers who don't understand German language and culture have blown this out of proportion. I wouldn't go so far as to call the whole matter an urban legend. I suspect there are political overtones to the recent apologetics for Kennedy's grammar.

Here's a parallel example for English speakers who don't speak German: it's like the difference between saying, "I am Danish," and "I am a danish." It's only humorous out of context and in retrospect. Durova 05:28, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

To weigh in on that matter: Kennedy actually did not make a mistake in saying "Ich bin ein Berliner". He could have also said "Ich bin Berliner", but IMHO in the context he put, comparing it to "cives romanus sum" the version with the article "ein" seems more appropriate to me. You can disagree on that, but the two version are merely two possibilities. However, it's true that the "doughnut joke" only works with the "ein" version.
As for the Doughnut issue - certainly no one in Berlin back then laughed - because of the gravity of the situtation and because Berlinians don't use the term "Berliner" for doughnuts. In Berlin they are called "Pfannkuchen" (literallly pan cakes), in other parts of Germany they are alled "Berliner" (probably short for Berliner Pfannkuchen to distinguish them from what usually passes under the name of Pfannkuchen), or "Krapfen" or "Kreppel".
Str1977 09:52, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

Durova, read the article again more closely.

The part about laughter in the crowd at Kennedy's German is almost certainly apocryphal.

The article does indeed mention laughter in the speech, which followed a joke Kennedy made ("I appreciate my interpreter translating my German!"), not the phrase Ich bin ein Berliner (there has, however, been a history of vandalism of the article, frequently changing it to support the legend). You can verify this for yourself, as I did, by watching the speech on one of several online sources.

Here's a parallel example for English speakers who don't speak German: it's like the difference between saying, "I am Danish," and "I am a danish." It's only humorous out of context and in retrospect.

"I am a danish" is an indisputable grammatical error. "Ich bin ein Berliner" is not, no matter how strange it may have sounded when Kennedy said it (in my opinion, Bill Clinton's German pronunciation was at least as bad, despite widespread claims that he "spoke German"). While I agree it would have been more usual to say "Ich bin Berliner," and here your professors will have been right, it is quite a leap of logic to conclude that this was a "grammatical error" that led to a belief that he was a Pfannkuchen. As the article mentions, here in Berlin, the item isn't known as a Berliner. Your danish analogy might make more sense further removed from Berlin, but that's not the legend.

This began in 1983, four years before the "legend" supposedly originated.

The article doesn't say the legend began then. It says "the origins of the legend are obscure." Sorry, but please read the article closely if you're going to critique it. We've been through most of these points already.

Most of these instructors were professors of German at Columbia University.

Appeal to authority is a common fallacy; as the article mentions, the legend received an enormous boost once it had been seen in the New York Times. If you read through the discussion on this page, you'll find that quite a few people here are themselves German-speakers, and at least one, Anjouli, attended the speech.

Part of the cartoon's wit is its implicit denigration of minority opinion by association with Kennedy's mistaken phrasing.

No, the phrase is simply well known in Germany. I just don't think you got the joke. Regards, ProhibitOnions 12:09, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

stop it

The universal reaction I received from ordinary Germans was that everybody knew Kennedy made a slight error. Technically he called himself a donut, they agreed, but German grammar is so complex that non-natives butcher it regularly.

Please stop spreading this nonsense. Ordinary Germans will not, I repeat, will not call it a "slight error". Both forms are correct (!) but they carry a "slight difference" in what it means. The most they could have possibly agreed with you is that the sentence would also (!) allow for the interpretation of the doughnut "Berliner". However this association is remote and common sense calls that "a play of words" - get the idea of someone presenting himself to you (with a strong foreign accent) "hello, I am Ceylon" and you'd reply "Oh, you're a tea?!". In the actual situation you would never ever misinterpret the phrase, no way. That is strictly correct for the historic situation since Berlin does not even know a doughnut named "Berliner". So historically there would be not even a play of words on the spot. It was merily impossible back then - it's all made up later on. Greetings from Berlin (and if that is not authoritive then have a look into the article where reference to a linguist is made - that guy should probably outweigh any highschool teacher you came across). Guidod 14:59, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
Hey, ich bin auch ein Berliner! Add yourself to [[Category:Wikipedians in Berlin]], Guidod! ProhibitOnions 12:12, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
I deserve a solid kick in the pants for not returning here earlier (aptly delivered at my RFA by ProhibitOnions). Perhaps my encounters were with a statistical aberration among ordinary Germans. I don't know of anyone who mistook Kennedy's intention when he made the speech. Regarding laughter, the typical elaboration on this story is that Germans tittered when he delivered this particular line. They may have laughed at other moments in the speech where he intended humor. Regards and respects, Durova 05:14, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

About the Simpsons episode

Either Lisa Simpson doesn't know German or she thinks she's a boy. Otherwise she would have said, more correctly, "Ich bin eine Gymnastin!" JIP | Talk 08:56, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

He's a Nazi

Get him!


JFK said he is a sausage, literally

> "Ich bin ein Berliner" ("I am a citizen of Berlin") is a famous quotation

This is incorrect in the article, because the sentence means "I am a sausage" in german. It is well-known that JFK said stupidity in the speech and half of german attendants were laughing about that loud, but film footage of that is not often shown in documentaries in order not to offend America.

Sausage in German is Wurst. Thank you.--Kungfu Adam (talk) 10:50, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

IT HAS ABSOLUTELY N-O-T-H-I-N-G TO DO WITH SAUSAGES. However, Berliner does not only mean citizen of Berlin, but it is also some kind of a doughnut. But JFK hasn't embarassed himself. If someone claims to be a New Yorker he doesn't intend being a fashion shop.

Here's an absolutely ridiculous re-translation in a bloody awful tourist brochure that was really meant to be serious. These idiots even messed up with the year.,1518,grossbild-581506-394256,00.html


Of course JFK's usage was grammatically correct. Until I saw this Wikipedia article, I knew of no one claiming otherwise. What he did do is unwittingly use a local idiom, in which Berliner is a jelly donut.

16:07, 26 June 2006
As the article says very distinctively: the local idiom in Berlin does NOT have a word Berliner referring to a jelly donut, the local idiom for a jelly donut is Pfannkuchen (pancake). *sigh* but even if there would have been a homonymous word (allowing for a play of words) without a little push (by that legendary "grammatical error") it would not have been giving the slightest foundation for a misunderstanding ... allowing to call the German words to be picked unwittingly. It's been picked, checked and without doubt, Oll Korrekt. Guidod 13:48, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

BBC story listed as "been repeated by reputable media"

The citation to BBC [2] is a from Letter from America, using storytelling, not an actual article. The Guardian[3] article also gives the myth as an anecdote -- the article is about printing media and is written by a graphic artist. They don't really feel like something that I'd qualify as "reputable" sources for information about presidential speeches, nor something that editors would generally try to correct. 20:07, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

It doesn't say "reported as factual news stories"; it says "the legend has been repeated by reputable media," which I think is a reasonable statement. It shows at least that it slips past the fact-checkers with great regularity.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 21:49, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
Agreed -- the context is the currency of the myth, and those are excellent examples. --Dhartung | Talk 23:48, 28 June 2006 (UTC)


It seems that there is still a habit of "atleast there must be something in it". So I chose to rebuild the section on the jelly donut legend part as a strict deconstruction running point by point. The legend does not have any factual foundation based on the historic event - it is a pure invention made in the USA that might have been thrown up as a joke of "Did he say Berliner? Isn't there a donut by that name?". Guidod 14:52, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

Disputed flag

Every German language teacher or professor I ever had, including several who were native speakers, made a point of specifying this speech in the classroom as an example of incorrect grammar. Characterizing it as an urban legend is inappropriate. The article cites a single linguist in Kennedy's defense, then claims that the media made it up out of whole cloth: WP:NOR. While the bit about people laughing during the speech is probably exaggerated, it is (to many German speakers) the equivalent of the difference in English between saying "I am Danish." and "I am a danish." What mattered more at the time, of course, was that they understood the intention of Kennedy's sentiment.

And the question of whether the donut in question is sold in Berlin is moot: foods are often named after some distant place. The "French crullers" sold in American donut shops resemble no pastry I've seen in France, "English muffins" look like no muffin from England, "New York cheesecake" rarely resembles the cheesecakes actually sold in New York, "neapolitan" ice cream does not come from Naples, etc. Durova 13:52, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, this is nonsense, and your insights have already been discussed on this page, if you'd care to look. Read the German Wikipedia, if you can. The only reference to the legend is as something propagated by English speakers, except that Interessanterweise wird die Geschichte mittlerweile auch von deutschen Muttersprachlern unreflektiert aus dem Englischen übernommen. So much for your teachers.  ProhibitOnions  (T) 18:40, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Fascinating -- when I ran the German article through Google translation, it comes out "I am a citizen of Berlin". The "jelly doughnut" story clearly first appeared in English. If it had been an important distinction to real Berliners, citations would be easily found. --Dhartung | Talk 19:27, 30 August 2006 (UTC)
Curtsey. Point conceded. Durova 05:15, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Groups of Listeners

I think it would help to break down the interpretation of Kennedy's phrase based on who the listener was/is. I'm definitely not an expert on this subject as I don't speak German but I think it would be interesting to see someone else who understands the situation well to break it down by groups of listeners like the ones below.

Group 1. You speak German and you don't call pastries 'Berliners', probably because you live in Berlin:

You'd understand that Kennedy was referring to himself as one of many 'figurative' Berliners and you wouldn't think about pastries.

Group 2. You speak English only and you've never heard of jelly pastries being called Berliners'.

You'd have to rely on the English translation which was probably "I am a Berliner" or "I am a citizen of Berlin" and think about Kennedy being a 'citizen' of Berlin.

Group 3. You speak German and you call jelly pastries 'Berliners', probably because you live in Germany but not near Berlin.

You'd see that there are two interpretations to (Kennedy's) "Ich bin ein Berliner.":


1. "I am a Berliner ('citizen' of Berlin)." with an implication/understanding that someone (like Kennedy) doesn't actually have to be a legal citizen of Berlin to be a 'citizen' of Berlin.


2. "I am a jelly pastry." - Literally, not even in the figurative sense!  :-)

Now, which of 1 or 2 comes to mind first to someone in group 3 seems to depend on how strongly that person has associated 'Berliner' with "citizen of Berlin" relative to how strongly they associate 'Berliner' to jelly pastry.

Group 4: You speak English only but you've heard of pastries being called Berliners.

Here the two translations above will generate different reactions. What were the exact translations to English of Kennedy's phrase that were done on the spot and/or broadcasted?

Case 1: English translation: "I am a citizen of Berlin."

You'd understand that Kennedy was referring to himself as one of many 'figurative' Berliners and you wouldn't think about pastries.

Case 2: English translation: "I am a Berliner"

You may think about Kennedy being a jelly pastry but you wouldn't 'see' the alternative, 'self-directed as opposed to one of many', "Ich bin Berliner."

If the 'correct' way to say "I am a jelly pastry" for the people in group 3 is "Ich bin ein Berliner" then the article should point out that some people found it amusing in comparing the two meanings that are possible while/after determining what Kennedy meant by his remarks, even if what he said was grammatically correct for his intended meaning.

Synesthetic 06:05, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

There's one simple problem. There are no citations from the time of the speech backing up that anybody thought he was saying "jelly doughnut". They do not appear until many years later, and first in the United States. So how do you plan to cite what people thought? Or are you just guessing? We can't include original research. --Dhartung | Talk 06:55, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
The whole discussion is pointless, as neither group would be likely to understand "I'm a jelly pastry." Groups 1 and 2 wouldn't because they do not know the word "Berliner" for the pastry. Group 3, which I belong to, wouldn't because any of its members also knows that a "Berliner" is a citizen of Berlin too. And group 4 would either not understand anything at all as they don't know German, or they'd also know that a "Berliner" could as well mean a citizen of Berlin, as the citizens of virtually any city are marked by adding -er to the city name. It's just the same as saying "Ich bin ein Hamburger." No one would think of you being a fast food item. -- H005 09:25, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
Here in Wisconsin, if I hear someone say "I brought home a buck this weekend," I know that they are not grossly underpaid. See code-switching. --Dhartung | Talk 17:50, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
I think there are a lot of people who have heard of hamburgers but not of Hamburg. Now if some of these people know the words ich bin ein, I think they would find "Ich bin ein Hamburger" kind of funny.
You're right that everyone should have understood what he meant since Berlin was on everyone's minds. However, the urban legend section of the article makes it seem that nobody would say "Ich bin ein Berliner" to mean "I am a jelly pastry" because someone from Berlin would say something like "Ich bin ein Pfannkuchen" if they wanted to say he or she was a jelly pastry. However, the German speakers who call jelly pastries "Berliners" would say "I am a jelly pastry" as "Ich bin ein Berliner". This is kind of funny, if you ask me, because that's exactly what Kennedy said.  :-)
The humor comes from the fact that the meaning stems from the context. It might be an urban legend that the people of Berlin found Kennedy's remark absurd but it seems that you can still find Kennedy's remark kind of funny even if you agree that it is correct. -- Synesthetic 16:15, 16 September 2006 (UTC)
Come on, think of it as funny if you wish to - but also face the fact that all this is completely made-up. Why would any German ever want to say "I am a jelly pastry."? That's absurd.
If instead of this Kennedy had said "I am a big fan of Berlin.", would you then break out in laughter imagining him being a giant propeller? Would any media report about this as an imprudent flaw?
Or imagine a foreign politician saying in, say, New York: "I am the ruler of Mostevodania." Would then everybody start to giggle as this could also mean that he is a measuring device? Of course it "could" mean that, but nobody actually thinks of the alternative possible meaning unless they deliberately want to make it look funny. And nobody would ever meantion this in a newspaper or even an encyclopaedia. -- H005 23:11, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
Btw, it is possible that "there are a lot of people who have heard of hamburgers but not of Hamburg". But those are definitely not German. -- H005 23:11, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

Let's make one thing very sure: the urban legend is not about a "possible play on words", it's about the claim of a "serious grammatical error" and a "historic fact" where Kennedy was laughed at. None of that is true. A theoretical possibility of making up a play on words does not imply there was a real possibility - especially as the situation in Germany was much to dramatic at the time as that anyone could even think of making up something, and that's commonly true to US citizens as well. In the midst of events, you would have need to be a very uninformed person (and probably very drunk as well) to make it up as a practical joke - more likely it was invented years later (from seeing the speech on tape) being turned in an urban legend where everyone says they know someone who knows a native German (or close-to-native-speaker German-teachar) that asserted the grammatical error. Which is untrue either, 100%. Guidod 20:28, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

There is a Berliner sausage

Some editors a while back insisted that there is no such thing as a sausage known as a Berliner. There definitely is, as a Google search of "Berliner sausage" indicates. Alan Pascoe 12:46, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Just like a search for "american sausage" proves beyond reasonable doubt that the word "American", used alone, also refers to a type of sausage? — 19:23, 26 November 2006 (UTC)
The only thing that springs to mind here in Berlin is Currywurst, which was invented in postwar Berlin and is thus sometimes described as "Berliner Currywurst"; ie, currywurst from Berlin. Some areas associated with the German language had sausage specialties; Krakauer and Wiener are the only ones that leap to mind (though I am, as a vegetarian, possibly less attuned to such things). However, these placenames rarely stand alone as obvious product names by themselves, any more than you'd say "a Belgian" instead of "a Belgian waffle".
Interestingly, "Berliner sausage" seems to be much better known in the English-speaking world. So there is such a thing, but again, it's not something that would make the legend work. [4] [5] [6]  ProhibitOnions  (T) 21:46, 26 November 2006 (UTC)



According to many a translation site and many a German, the correct way to say you are from a certain city is to say "Ich bin (city)." While we all love JFK and everyone knows exactly what he wanted to say, he did in fact call himself a Berliner, a type of jelly doughnut. While we cannot dispute what he was trying to say, this is not an urban legend and JFK did call himself a doughnut. Needs more documentation on how this is to be the correct way to say you are from a German city. (even if he did stress the "ein"). Cleric 20:03, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

You are talkingto Germans on this page. Kindly provide links to the "many" sources you are referring to that support the legend, and we'll discuss them. ProhibitOnions (T) 23:21, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Per your request, I do not have any specific sources stating that it is a legend as the article does not have enough sources to call it a myth/legend. I am not arguing the fact that of what it means, but what it can also mean. According to the linguist quoted in the article, "In spite of the fact that it's also the correct way to say "I am a jelly doughnut," no adult German speaker could possibly have misunderstood Kennedy's meaning in context." I have stated this above but requested for additional sources stating that it is a myth/legend. It has 2 meanings. This is no myth. This is factual and should be stated as such. Above, I stated, "While we cannot dispute what he was trying to say, this is not an urban legend."

Cleric 21:08, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Except that (sigh) a "jelly doughnut" isn't called a Berliner here in Berlin, and this has already been discussed to death. It is a myth, and we have plenty of sources to show this. What I asked you to provide were any reputable sources showing that this story is not a myth. You have yet to do so. ProhibitOnions (T) 21:55, 29 December 2006 (UTC)
Here is what I stated previously..."According to the linguist quoted in the article, "In spite of the fact that it's also the correct way to say "I am a jelly doughnut," no adult German speaker could possibly have misunderstood Kennedy's meaning in context."

How does this not contradict what is stated? I understand that it "has already been discussed to death" but if the linguist that is quoted in the article is stating that it has two meanings, then it is not a myth. Cleric 18:33, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

Why don't you read the discussion, then? Yes "ein Berliner" means "a male person from Berlin." Yes, in some parts of Germany (but not Berlin) it also means "a deep-fried pastry filled with plum sauce similar to a jelly doughnut." So yes, if these pastries could talk, they might conceivably say "Ich bin ein Berliner." However, that's not the legend. The legend is as follows: Kennedy said "Ich bin ein Berliner," which is a grammatical mistake, because he should not have included the indefinite article; due to this mistake his statement was not "I am a citizen of Berlin" but a non-human Berliner; ergo "I am a doughnut." The crowd burst out laughing at this ridiculous error. It relies on a smug assumption that Kennedy said something disastrously wrong that meant something far removed than what he intended; this never happened, and you can watch the video to confirm this. I don't know how often we have to repeat this: The urban legend is not true. You only hear it in English-language sources, and the number of English-speakers who speak and understand German well is small indeed. A more recent example of this kind of thing would be the news item widely reported in the English-language media a couple of years ago, according to which unemployed German women would be required to work as prostitutes [7] [8], which obviously stemmed from some English-speaking clever-clogs "translating German" without understanding the subjunctive 1 form, which deals with reported speech or hypothetical situations. ProhibitOnions (T) 21:36, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

Ok, Onion, I think we are on different wave lengths here. I am not disputing that it means "a mail person from Berlin" or that it means "a deep-fried pastry filled with plum sauce similar to a jelly doughtnut." I am not disputing what he said (as we have both come to the conclusion that he said both these things). I am disputing that this is a myth/legend. He did say he was "a person from Berlin." He did say he was a "jelly doughnut." We have both agreed on this. What I am saying is that it is not a myth that he said these things... Cleric 21:08, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

Point taken. However, as mentioned earlier, this term isn't used in Berlin, so speaking in Berlin he would not, in fact, be saying he was a jelly doughnut. ProhibitOnions (T) 11:09, 6 January 2007 (UTC)