Talk:Ich bin ein Berliner

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

Grammar query[edit]

Would someone be able to explain, why it is "ein" and not "einen"? (talk) 23:51, 9 June 2015 (UTC)

Gleichsetzungsnominativ [4] Guidod (talk) 03:18, 10 June 2015 (UTC)

Because "ein" (a) is in nominative case, as the predicate of "Ich" in "Ich bin" (I am): I am a Berliner. "Einen" is in accusative, e.g. in the following sentence as the verb object: Ich habe einen Berliner = I have a Berliner

Since English has very little conjugation in nouns, pronouns, etc., the above may be difficult to absorb. The same is also the root cause for common mistakes such as "between you and I" (rather than "between you and me") similar to, perhaps, the grammatically wrong pattern "It's me" which is universally used instead of the pedantic "It is I". The latter, of course, sounds entirely natural in expressions such as "I is I who claims that...".

The phrase and the legend in fiction and popular culture[edit]

  • In the X-Files episode "Schizogeny", Mulder erroneously tells a teen with the poster "Ich bin ein Auslander" (mistakenly spelled Auslander, correct spelling is Ausländer) that when Kennedy said "Ich bin ein Berliner" he was saying "I am a cocktail sausage", leading to the teen's response: "Who's Kennedy?".
  • The legend also appears in Berlin Game, the first book in Len Deighton's Game, Set, Match trilogy. Deighton describes German cartoonists drawing "talking doughnuts" the next day, but there is no historical evidence for this.
  • The short story "Told You So" by Esther M. Friesner in the 1992 alternate-history anthology Alternate Kennedys has Kennedy being granted the ability to have his every utterance become reality and being turned into a jelly donut when he says the famous phrase.
  • According to British comedian Alexei Sayle, prior to the speech Kennedy wrapped himself in black plastic. He then mounted the podium and proclaimed: "Ich bin ein Binliner".
  • In an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry makes a reference to the "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech when Elaine displays her interest in JFK Jr. Commentary subtitles to the DVD mistakenly report the "jelly doughnut" legend as fact.
  • Artist Achim Mentzel released a CD titled Ich bin ein Berliner with a track of the same name.
  • The British band 'Blurt has a song about this called "Bullets For You" on the album with the same title.
  • The famous parts of the speech are heavily sampled in the The Passage's song "brd usa ddr jfk" from their 1983 album Enflame.
  • In an episode of The Tick, the Tick is sent to Antwerp, Belgium and ends up proclaiming "Ich bin ein Berliner." to a stupefied audience.
  • In episode 7 of Sealab 2021, "Little Orphan Angry", the orphan boy says of Griff's banking scam, "Ich bin impressed!"
    • A later episode of Sealab, "Craptastic Voyage", features Tornado Shanks with a tiny submarine in his brain that crashes into his language center. Shanks promptly mutters the line: "Ich bin ein Berliner" to which John F. Kennedy shows up stating: "Hey, hey, that's my line, tumorface!"
  • In the book The Year of Secret Assignments, on page 193 & 194 (page 217 in the book's alternate version Finding Cassie Crazy), there is a paragraph as follows:

    "Well, what happened was, a former president of the United States went to Berlin, Germany, and he shouted at the crowd: 'Ich bin ein Berliner!!' Now, for some reason which I cannot fathom, he was trying to say, 'I am a resident of Berlin!!' (He wasn't.) But, for some reason which I also cannot fathom, he was actually saying: 'I am a jelly doughnut!'

  • In the episode "Simpson Tide" of The Simpsons Abraham Simpson recalls the time when he was on the PT 109 with John F. Kennedy and heard him say, "Ich bin ein Berliner". Abe then yells to his shipmates, "He's a Nazi! Get him!" and he and the crew beat him up. In another episode "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk", Mayor Quimby (himself somewhat of a parody of Kennedy) in an effort to welcome German businessmen, says, "Ich bin ein Springfielder!".
  • In an episode of The Mask The Animated Series (Flight As A Feather), during a ceremony declaring Barvariaville, a German-themed neighborhood near Edge City, as the exclusive vendor of pretzels for all city functions, Mayor Tilton says, "Ich bin ein Barvariavillian.
  • In the film Blades of Glory this phrase can be heard at the beginning of the musical sequence for the double figure skating pair of Stranz Van Waldenberg (dressed as John F. Kennedy) and Fairchild Van Waldenberg (dressed as Marilyn Monroe).
  • In "The Baby Shower", an episode of Seinfeld, George states, "Ich bin ein sucker."
  • The English comedian Eddie Izzard references the urban legend in his show 'Dress to Kill'.
  • In an episode of the 1990s American television series Profiler, the villian says to his father, "Ich bin Vanderhorn". (
  • It also appears in the third episode "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" of the US television series Pan Am. 15:57, 18 October 2011‎ Metre01


19:39, 9 September 2007 Amcbride (Talk | contribs) (16,739 bytes) (→Jelly doughnut urban legend - {sources} tag: I'm inclined to believe WP here, but currently this section presents 6 sources AGAINST its own thesis and zero for it)

You should explain that - HERE. Guidod 20:10, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Sorry; I thought my edit was clear and simple enough that explaining in the edit summary was enough. I don't know if I can elaborate much on my edit summary, but I'll try. WP:V says "any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source." In this case, we haven't shown the reader where to find a reliable source that has published the information that the "jelly doughnut" story is an urban legend. This would be a problem by itself, but it is even more of a problem here, because not only have we given no reliable sources to support what the article is saying, we have given six sources that support the opposite of what the article is saying. (Not deceptively; of course... the article correctly makes clear that the sources support the "jelly doughnut" story.) If I thought the article's thesis was false that the doughnut story is an urban legend, I would simply have removed the material as unsourced. But the section is well written and has me reasonably convinced that indeed the doughnut story is just an urban legend. All it lacks are sources. Hence the {{sources}} tag. Does this make sense? Do you have a reliable source for the doughnut story as an urban legend? If not, how would you feel about replacing the {{sources}} tag? --Allen 22:36, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
No response; restoring {{sources}} tag. --Allen 01:46, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
I am not regularly on the English wikipedia of course - as for the jelly doughnut legend to be a myth, well, feel free to read the discussions on this page. And yes, there are indeed about 100 million native German-speakers who will testify that the story is plain wrong - how much more do you need for a reliable fact? Reputable media in Germany will not care about a story that has no meaning in Germany and which is so obviously ridiculous. The interesting thing about the story is that there are those "otherwise reputble media" in the English-speaking world who have cited the myth as if being the truth.... because otherwise it would have not have any factual basis to be worth of being listed in an encyclopedia in the first place (well, perhaps in the trivia section like "note that some hicks in the US believe there was a grammatical error" or something.). Guidod 18:56, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Please do not use derogatory language like "hick" on Wikipedia. We have a policy called WP:CIVIL that basically says to be polite and civil in Wikipedia discussions. As for the issue at hand, perhaps the German Wikipedia is different, but here on the English Wikipedia, we have a policy that says, "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth." This is the same policy, WP:V, that I cited before. Please read it carefully. It does not matter if the information is true, nor does it matter if 100 million native German speakers agree. All that matters is whether or not the information has been published by a reliable source. I know this can seem counterintuitive at first, but it is a core policy that has served us very well over the years. --Allen 19:13, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
The highest reliable source for a grammatical thing... that's native speakers. Of course we find that some people do not have "access" to a native speaker to verify what the truth is. But there is an easy way here - just put a {ref}-tag to the published material of proven native speakers. And there is an obvious candidate here - one can find that in en:Talk:Ich bin ein Berliner there are many German native speakers (many of them living in Berlin) telling what the truth is. It is easily verifiable. Any plead to counter that? Guidod 22:08, 12 September 2007 (UTC)
I know that WP:V is kind of long, and I'm sure you're a busy person, but it really would help the discussion if you read it. For example, you would see that our policy is, "Articles and posts on Wikipedia or other open wikis should never be used as third-party sources" (here's a shortcut to the relevant section). So no, we cannot cite the article's own talk page. --Allen 00:36, 13 September 2007 (UTC)
Shall I put a message on my university homepage? As a native speaker and Berlin resident I am obvouisly an expert in the field. Guidod 20:01, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

Neither being a native German speaker nor being a Berlin resident makes you an expert in the question of the urban legend's status in Germany. That said, it is impossible to prove a negative, and probably impossible to find a source to back up a negative claim like "the urban legend is (virtually) unknown in Germany". The statement should simply be removed unless such a source actually does exist. —Angr 20:15, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

[response to Guidod:] What you suggest might or might not work. You're right that there is something special about self-published work by experts that can make it an exception to the no-self-published-sources rule. Here is the relevant bit of policy (yet again, from WP:V):

Self-published material may, in some circumstances, be acceptable when produced by an established expert on the topic of the article whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable third-party publications.

So if you have had work regarding the German language published by reliable third-party publications, then you can post something on your university homepage, and we can probably cite it on Wikipedia. --Allen 02:14, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
[to Angr] Thanks, but what about the basic issue of saying that the doughnut story is an urban legend, regardless of whether or not it's well known in Germany? --Allen 03:05, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
I found this in about a minute and a half. There are probably more sources confirming its status as an urban legend if one takes the time to look. —Angr 06:38, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
You're right; I'm sorry. I did look, and I found the article too, but I didn't think was a reliable source. But this time I also found this, which is probably a reliable source. --Allen 14:53, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Oh c'mon, you're taking the fun out of this where one would discuss reliability ouf sources - because every single of those references citing the myth as truth is obviously and by all logic less valuable than any single native speaker. Because they had forgotten to do the minimal original research that is all about good journalism. Even the reference to the part does not show the slightest idea in the article of having any foundation for its claims. They just say so. (and to speak of cultural difference: sure, Aufklärung demands that authority is mainly drawn from proper reasoning in looking at the value of the text - its publisher is a secondary attribution. Yeah, even Science mags have bad days). Well anyway, if you feel fine with the current construction then so be it.

Going for "where is it known", well, the English wikipedia article has killed off already the reference that the origin of the popular myth is in the USA. The German wikipedia page still has it and it says frankly that it a US-centric phenomenon. And so far not a single reader had questioned that on de:Diskussion:Ich bin ein Berliner as "oh, I knew it already". May be you want to try google looking for German-speaking webpages - I assume that every single of them will say (a) it is a myth and (b) popular in the USA. (Unless they make out for a good satire anyway as the legend feels so ridiculous to a native speaker). If you have too much time then go looking and show me some counter example. What shall the ratio be for virtually unknown, 100:1 or 10000000:1 ? I can throw in some hundred people that I know personally around - whom can you account for as a counter example? Guidod 00:10, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

I don't speak German, so I can't go looking on German-language webpages, but it is acceptable (not preferred, but acceptable) to cite German-language sources on the English Wikipedia, so feel free to add citations to published, third-party sources written in German. And I agree that is not a great source. The article is a lot better in this case, even though I'm not so sure about overall. Your other arguments about published sources vs. the word of individuals with direct experience are better suited, I think, for Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability. They go to the heart of what Wikipedia is supposed to be, and if you successfully convinced the community to change its policy, this article is just one of thousands that would be dramatically affected. --Allen 17:40, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
Don't forget that the primary source is linked for all to review for themselves, namely, Kennedy's speech itself. Leaving aside the other fallacies (a Berliner is not the name of a doughnut in Berlin, there is no grammatical mistake), it can be seen that people do not, in fact, burst out laughing at the phrase when he utters it, as the legend asserts. ProhibitOnions (T) 17:56, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
@Allen, actually I was thinking that one could use the google translator to get the basic ideas out of a webpage. It's not a perfect tool but for the target snippets it should be all sufficient. - As for Talk:Verifiability, well, I don't have the time to set out on crusade to persuade people to what I believe should be common sense in the first place. If it is disputed anyway then my English level might hit the limits, for example, does "pristine sources" have the indented associations that I am thinking of? Guidod 01:30, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

I have now supplied sources for several of the apparently contentious statements about the urban legend of the jelly doughnut. These sources, all of which are in German, clearly state that the type of jelly doughnut in question is called a Pfannkuchen in Berlin, that the urban legend prevalent in English-speaking countries is incorrect, and that the Kennedy speech was one of the great and celebrated moments in German post-war history. Not many English-language sources debunk this silly myth. One reason is the urban legend itself, another is the tremendous admiration and affection that most Germans, across the political spectrum, felt and continue to feel for Kennedy and his courageous speech. Being German and having lived in Germany from birth until age 24, I can certainly personally attest to those feelings of Germans about the speech. Perhaps for this reason Germans are not inclined to make fun of it. A U.S. analogue would be the Gettysburg Address. Substantively, the urban legend is utter and complete nonsense. I know from personal experience that many U.S. citizens find this hard to believe (some of the comments on this page seem to reflect a certain resistance to letting go of the legend). Nevertheless, it's true. I am very glad that this article sets the record straight.Paradisewithinthee 22:19, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

References like or are nothing better than linking to my own homepage with a hasty remark. Your statement however highlights a fact that many of the English-speaking readers do not pay enough attention to: the actual affection of Germans towards the speech and its catch phrase. The JFK "Ich bin ein Berliner" snippet from the original tape is included quite often in contemporary media, TV and radio broadcasts - atleast around August 13 each year. These references are done always in a very dignified manner - so there you are how the public opinion comes about in Germany. Guidod 01:30, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
Guidod, thanks for the suggestion of using Google translation; I hadn't thought of that. Actually it generates some reverse "Berliner" humor, because it always translates "Berliner" as "citizen of Berlin", even when the jelly doughnut is intended. And Paradisewithinthee, thanks for adding the sources. I agree with Guidod that some of them are no better than linking to Guidod's homepage, but I'm not going to worry about it anymore. It's better than no sources at all. And I won't protest if anyone wants to add the reference in; I might do it myself if I get around to it. I can barely remember what it is I have against that website anyway. --Allen 01:22, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
William Grimes's June 6, 2007, review in the New York Times of Frederick Taylor's new book, The Berlin Wall: a World divided, 1961-1989, states that Taylor debunks the doughnut myth along the lines discussed here. Grimes wries, " . . . John F. Kennedy’s ringing declaration “Ich bin ein Berliner” (which, as Mr. Taylor carefully explains, does not mean “I am a jelly doughnut,” despite the myth) . . . " I believe that citing to the review is not appropriate, and any cites have to be to the book itself. I haven't seen it, but I'll try to get a hold of it and supply the citation. 15:35, 24 September 2007 (UTC)
While I agree that it's an urban legend, it's no urban legend which had never been known in Germany. No doubt, nobody in Berlin or watching this speech on TV - even if he calls jelly doughnuts "Berliner" - would have misunderstood that phrase. However, because of his little pause in that sentence it is a natural joke. I'm sure that many people realized the existence of this second interpretation and that it was a frequently told joke. Probably I'm wrong, but I "remember" that I misunderstood that sentence when I first heard it. Consider a child of seven or eight years who knows jelly doughnuts but is too young to know anything about Berlin, the Cold War and why his parents are afraid of some words. 18:05, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
FellGleaming (talk) 17:34, 23 January 2008 (UTC) Regarding the so-called "myth", I'm inclined to believe there is a bit more to it. This interview with a native of Berlin who actually heard Kennedy's speech said his phrase was "a bit silly" and specifically makes the "pancake" reference:
This source, from a native German translator, says the phrasing is indeed closer to a "jelly doughnut" than a person, but claims the distinction was probably not enough to make the average person laugh:
Also, despite Kennedy's so-called professional translator, the fact remains that he (Robert Lochner) was not a German native-language speaker. The source article's conclusion that he couldn't have possibly made a mistake due to his "professional" status seems rather weak.
I'm inclined to believe Kennedy's speech probably was a bit of a gaffe, but considerably more slight than the "legend" leads us to believe, and the article should be amended accordingly.—Preceding unsigned comment added by FellGleaming (talkcontribs) 2008-01-23T18:34:10
I agree. Debate seems to swing between "He said he was a jelly doughnut" and "It's a complete myth" (with the latter currently being presented as "the Truth" in the article)…if he said "Ich bin Berliner" there would have been no ambiguity, but saying "Ich bin ein Berliner" did create *some* (I *believe* it also could have been understood as "I am *one* Berliner", or "*I* am a Berliner" [in the sense of "I too, am a Berliner"]…a native speaker would have to decide that (and I don't think it needs to be someone from Berlin as much as some others here seem to think), I studied German for many years but didn't grow up with it. N.B. The person who said it was an American accent because he had phonetically spelled for himself as "Bearleener", I think the poor pronunciation was related more to the "Ich". Historian932 (talk) 14:27, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
I agree, and would like to add some aspect. "Ich bin Berliner" would have (had) first and foremost the meaning "I am a Berlin resident" (I am a Berliner - alike, Londoner, e.g.). -- Therefore, in my opinion President Kennedy was (absolutely) right, and well advised, to put it like he did. - Thus the true and unmistakable meaning is most likely to be: "I belong to here/ to this city (symbolically!), and, I stand by your side." -- The by far more significant aspect is that the (German) audience, live or via radio, TV, cinema, etc., did understand this meaning within a sec - in my opinion. And responded to it in a enthusiastic and very much grateful, i.e. in a very sentimental way. -- Even me, as born "only" in 1968, and not a 'Berliner', I react in a similar way whenever seeing this part of President Kennedy's speech on TV ... -- In my opinion, Germans esp. at that time had been very much sentimental, romantically minded, and in this special moment, starry-eyed. So, at that time, of course in other parts of Germany people (might have) understood (realised) that this sentence could be taken as a sentence with a 'double meaning'. But emotions probably have been much too strong for "to waste" some further thought on this. (I am a native German speaker, btw.) Hholden (talk) 11:55, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

Here, in a nutshell, is the basic problem with Wikipedia: (a) Not going for true facts but 'verifiable' facts; (b) 'verifiable' facts are defined as those that some terribly terribly self-important body (e.g. the UN, or some newspaper that happens to be the flavour of the month with metro-lefty-liberal people, such as the NYT) has decreed to be so. Thus, it doesn't matter what native German speakers say: it matters what some scribbler with a little learning in some newspaper in an English-speaking country has stated. It doesn't matter that Jerusalem is factually the capital of Israel, just as the peak of Mt Everest is factually the highest point on earth: metro-lefty-liberal Israel-haters (and of course, the club of fascist countries in the UN) dislike this plain fact, so they claim it isn't so and Wikipedia mimics them cravenly. In the particular case described here, there was no confusion at all in the minds of the people of Germany; Kennedy said that he was (figuratively) a person from Berlin. Only English-speaking hacks imagined otherwise.

General Clay[edit]

Kennedy says, "And I am proud to ... come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed." Does anyone know who is this General Clay? --Acepectif 09:36, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

That would be Lucius D. Clay. —Angr 10:11, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Ich / Ick[edit]

If I remember correctly, a Berliner would say "Ick bin ein Berliner"? A somewhat reliable source: the "Ick bin ein Amerikaner" T-shirts on Erik Warmelink (talk) 00:36, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

It's true that the word for "I" in Berlin dialect is ick, not ich. However, I suspect those T-shirts are more a teasing reference to Americans' inability to pronounce the sound [ç] than a reference to Berlin dialect. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 08:41, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
Possibly, on the other hand, teasing Americans was not the goal of the Solidaritätskundgebung am Brandenburger Tor. Both the US embassy and the BPA (which I guess is the de:Bundespresseamt) could have chosen better pictures to show the solidarity.
I had two reasons to mention it:
  1. If I remember correctly again, a Berliner says machen, not maken, which would put Berlin north of the Benrath line, yet south of the Uerdingen line.
  2. It is the only story somewhat close to the "jelly doughnut" myth that I had heard before reading about it on wikipedia (but then again, it was only mentioned when talking about the differences between Berlinerish and High German).
Googling for "Ick bin ein Berliner" (with the quotes) only gave links to blogs when I first read the article. When I found a (hardly) better source, I decided to ask on the talk page. Erik Warmelink (talk) 22:08, 9 December 2007 (UTC)
"Ick bin ein Berliner" would be half dialect, half Hochdeutsch. A dialect speaking Berlin citizen would say "Ick bin een Berlina". Therefor I agree with the assumption above, it's most likely mocking "American German". Sneeka2 (talk) 05:32, 6 February 2008 (UTC)
"Ick bin ein Amerikaner" is clearly a return of JFK's statement of solidarity. As both Berliners and Americans are well known for their inability to pronounce "Ich" correctly, the use of "ick" emphasises the parallel. If it was intended to tease Americans it would use "Isch/Ish" rather than "Ick". (I'm native german speaker btw) (talk) 23:50, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
You are aware that "Amerikaner" is a pastry, too? It looks like this: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:54, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

Sources don't back up statement.[edit]

I removed "Although it has no basis in fact, the legend has since been repeated by reputable media, such as the BBC[8], The Guardian[9], MSNBC[10], CNN[11], Time magazine[12], and in several books about Germany written by English-speaking authors, including Norman Davies[13]." If you follow those links, you will not find any mention of President Kennedy or jelly doughnuts. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 02:41, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm sorry, and I really don't mean to be rude, but did you even pay attention to the links? The footnoted links do mention Kennedy and jelly doughnuts. It is a little above halfway down in the BBC link, and at the very bottom on the CNN link. Watch the movie on the MSNBC link. It clearly provides the incorrect translation almost halfway through. Comments by random people below it are both right and wrong. The third paragraph in the Time article mentions the myth without expanation. The Guardian article, however does say that the myth is false. I will be reinstating the section without the Guardian. I do not know about the book. Regards, Reywas92Talk 03:18, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
Reywas's reversion restored some OR that I had previously removed, and deleted quotation marks that were quite proper. I have reverted to a previous version of the article. Robert K S (talk) 03:27, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

I sit corrected. I took out the internal links (which I had assumed were the proper sources) and hope they will stay out, since they confuse the reader and are really not necessary. Anybody who reads this article should already know these news organisations. Mea culpa. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 07:29, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

"In fact, the statement is both grammatically correct[3] and perfectly idiomatic, and cannot be misunderstood in context." It's not a fact. The fact is that it has been misunderstood in context. Otherwise, this whole argument would not be here. (talk) 16:44, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Not quite. It has been misunderstood by Americans. The fact the the speech was given in berlin, and the myth is not even known of by most Germans seems to indicatate that it can't be misunderstood in context. It CAN be misunderstood perhaps if you misunderstand the context.-- (talk) 18:20, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

The BBC and the Guardian are 'reputable'? ROFL. Here again is the root-problem with Wikipedia. If it's a metro-lefty-liberal body, even if it has published blatant lies in pursuit of its political agenda, what it says must be true. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:53, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

It's not a misunderstanding that would be anywhere close at hand for a native German speaker, then or now - least of all a denizen of Berlin (a city where the pastry in question isn't even called by the B-word!). As pointed out in the article, and a hundred times here on the talk page, "ein Berliner" is both more punchy when spoken in public, and syntactically necessary when the idea to be conveyed is "I belong with those who dwell in Berlin, or who were born in Berlin" although the speaker does not himself literally come from Berlin: stating your solidarity and joint purpose with that group.

And there is nothing illogical or deluded about such a thought. Many of the jerks saying "no man, he was inadvertently claiming he was a doughnut!" seem to have missed out on the word metaphor, a common device in speech-writing and even in ordinary language. (talk) 00:53, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Not an urban legend[edit]

He actually said I am a jelly dough nut. Ich bin Berliner is the correct phrase. this needs to be redone... after discussion of course. At the very least we have to present this neutral as well as the parenthetical translation needs to be correct. Superbowlbound (talk) 21:25, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

It had been discussed, see archives. You presented no new argument for an appeal. Note that you have to persuade a jury of a dozen Berlin residents that watch this page, so chances are verrry low. Guidod (talk) 01:14, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

It could just as easily be claimed that someone saying "I am a New Yorker." was calling themself a magazine. So no, he was not calling himself a jelly donut. (talk) 05:07, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

On a similar note, Time makes fools of us all. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:24, 13 April 2008 (UTC)
saying you are A New Yorker is just that, in English; this bears no comparison to German language expression. Joe Chop (talk) 16:02, 2 June 2009 (UTC) Joe Chop

actually saying "ich bin ein Berliner" sounds stronger in a speech than just saying "Ich bin Berliner", although it might be gramatically wrong. For the average german speaker this only adds the double meaning of doughnut/citizen from berlin, so unless you are higly educated in german language you would not waste your brainpower on thinking about what is correct, so there is no such urban legend in german speaking countrys. I sometimes joke about kennedy being a doughnut because were i come from these doughnut are called berliners, but if you walk into a bakery in berlin and ask for a "berliner", there is a good chance they have no idea what you are talking about, as they are called "pfannkuchen" here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:56, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

_; boy that was really mixed up (talk) 00
56, 13 June 2009 (UTC)Joe Chop

The comparison to saying "I am a New Yorker" is a false one. No one questions Kennedy's intent, nor how it was received, since his intent was clear. However, grammatically, taking the ambiguous and not grammatically correct route make the "urban legend" accurate. I always heard, from native German speakers, no less, that, technically, he was saying "jelly donut." NOT that it was taken that way. The most grammatically correct use is "Ich bin Berliner." However, the most grammatically correct use IS "I am a New Yorker" - so that comparison is completely invalid. A more proper comparison would be if a German came and said "I am THE New Yorker."

Pointing out that no one misunderstood him, is quite different from saying "this is completely false..." particularly when it ISN'T completely false. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:16, 24 July 2008 (UTC)

I agree with the above, that the "urban legend" is not false, but completely accurate. My mother is a native German speaker, and she laughed during the speech because of it. (She also happens to have a Master's degree in German, but she's told me that her friends also laughed about the phrase after the speech; they all considered it a funny error by the US President.) (talk) 01:36, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

I might take it that a single person gets along the non-obvious meaning of a phrase but you can not make me to believe that a complete group at a hundred percent wanted to get it wrong when I can't find anyone in Germany that got it wrong actually. I assume your memory is failing you on this point - remember that people do not necessarily laugh on a grammatical error but more on the political momentum of a phrase ("nice speech to no avail"). An extended version of the myth speaks about "the audience laughed" connecting it the alleged grammatical error where in fact the laughter occurred when JFK did thank the interpreter for translating his German phrase (who was actually repeating it). So, yes, there was laughter around the phrase, but no, it was not based on some alleged grammatical error (repeat: there is NO grammatical error, period. There is just a low chance of a double meaning for people to know other interpretations of the word "Berliner" being rightout impossible in Berlin at the time of the speech). Guidod (talk) 16:28, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

I'm from Germany. I personally think by the word "Berliner" first on a jelly doughnut, but there are regionally differences. "Berliner Pfannkuchen" has the short name "Berliner" in some german areas and "Pfannkuchen" in the area near of Berlin. There are also areas where we call it "Krapfen" or "Kreppel". To me it doesnt sound very different if someone says "Ich bin ein Heidelberger" or "Ich bin Heidelberger", I personally would prefer "Ich bin ein Heidelberger", but there might be also regional differences. JFKs sentence sounds to me absolutely correct. Its true, we find this double meaning funny, but we like him for the true meaning of this sentence, i.e "Im Herzen bin ich Berliner" (In my heart i am berliner). Martin, 19.03.2013.

WRONG. I speak to Germans all the time, and NONE of them are impressed by this urban myth. Without exception, they state that Kennedy said "I am (figuratively) from Berlin". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:56, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

Kennedy may or may not have been correct. However I deplore the attempt to shut down debate on this, the extent to which non-Germans are trying to interpret the German language, and the absence of balance in the article. What is clear is that only Germans, and probably only Berlin residents, are qualified to make a pronouncement on this. Secondly, as the article notes "while the indefinite article ein is omitted when speaking of an individual's profession or residence, it is still necessary when speaking in a figurative sense as Kennedy did. Since the President was not literally from Berlin but only declaring his solidarity with its citizens". This is in fact confirmation that Kennedy was wrong. For the "indefinite article ein is omitted when speaking of an individual's profession or residence". That is precisely what he was doing. Kennedy was talking of himself as being a resident of Berlin, just as in his analogy people were declaring their status as citizens of Rome. This is no philological basis for the suggesting that the ein is not omitted when talking in a figurative sense, whatever that means. Nor is any cited. A Roman citizen is not making a figurative reference, but a statement of legal status, so why interpret Kennedy as doing so? I learnt a little German, but a friend of mine is "a Berliner", a German school teacher, brought up in east Berlin. According to her Kennedy was incorrect, the ein should have been omitted. (talk) 03:28, 9 November 2014 (UTC)
She's just wrong, and so are you. --Amga (talk) 21:10, 24 February 2016 (UTC) (native German speaker)

Here is Martin again: As I told before there might be regional differences. But "Ich bin ein Heidelberger" ist 100% native German. See acutally the Link from Heidelberger Druck "Darum bin ich ein Heidelberger" . They even use the "a" in the english translation! So JFK was correct. The fact, that "Berliner" is ambiguous (similar to "Hamburger") is another issue and has nothing to do with the discussion of using "a" or not using "a". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:31, 22 March 2016 (UTC)

Moved from the article[edit]

  • In 2007 Mongolia released a new 'talking' coin with JFK on the obverse which speaks the phrase "Ich bin ein Berliner". Source Times Online

silly rabbit (talk) 11:46, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

User:Joe Chop

That coin does not talk. The phrase "Ich bin ein Berliner" is simply declared on the coin next to Kennedy's effigy. Read your souces more carefully please. Alandeus (talk) 09:11, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Doughnut Calling[edit]

Is there still a debate on this? i gather it is understood now that Kennedy called himself a doughnut, and the point made above under "Not an urban legend" is poignant: if i say to an English speaker, "i am a Danish"* i will be taken for a visitor from slightly north of Germany, and naturally not for an iced pastry with apricot jelly in the middle. But the comparison is perfect, thus the grins on the faces of the crowd filmed during the speech. He could have spoken in Hamburg without disastrous effects and resulting debate, as a "hamburger" is just another pure American fiction (as are frankfurters, also a kind of comminuted retrieved-meat product). Still: nobody so far has been recorded entering a German baker's asking for a Kennedy - perhaps it's time.

  • "ich bin ein Kopenhagener" would be a close literal translation to "i am a Danish", as these statements relate to the exact same pastry;

...and with regard to "I agree with the urban legend section, but...", i must make this correction: a pfann(pfanne=pan)kuchen(=cake) is, as you see, a pancake and not a dough nut!

Sorry, but your correction is wrong. The German language is varied enough that a single term may have a lot of regionally different meanings. Going by your pancake example: a "Pfannkuchen" can be a pancake, but also (e.g. in Berlin) a Berliner (pastry), or in Austria an Omelette. ~ a German native 21:52, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
You are missing the point. "I am a Danish" is not correct English. The correct term would be "I am Danish". Of course people understand what is meant, but that does not make the term correct. Kennedy did not say "I am from Berlin" (as a citizen or resident), but "I am a Berlin [doughnut]". Again, of course people understood what he meant to say. But is was still a mistake. I do not understand the continued debate on this. Are Americans unable to accept that Kennedy was not a God, and did make mistakes? (talk) 03:36, 9 November 2014 (UTC)

Joe Chop 'addendum': i see this debate is predicated on verifiable information/reliable sources etc. - may i point out that the only reliable source is the footage available; if you are not thoroughly conversant in German or think you must somehow defend a Nation's "honour" at any price then you are obfuscating the debate. Also: with regard to the New Yorker magazine comparison, it would be accurate to suppose the talker referred to themselves as The New Yorker -- And apologies to the Moderator, but in the summation box heading this debate, the first four points are either innacurate or ill informed. ..."infinitely unlikely" etc. i perceive as well, this is hardly edifying - the Future Of Debate looks grim.

... and i don't need to consult a dozen Berlin residents btw, i am (a!!) German. unsigned comment added by Joe Chop (talkcontribs) 16:36, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

... Eichhoff-schmeichoff: "If he says that Kennedy's phrase was correct, that should settle the matter..." is just more bulldozing, you won't convince any German speakers that's for sure;

@ ProhibitOnions: your comment regarding those with a smattering of German ironically applies to you, as i see you are from Newcastle -- and please check your spelling.[[Joe Chop]

Joe: we are just applying the Wikipedia policies on reliable sources and original research. Even if you are a native German speaker, that by itself does not qualify you to present your opinions as factual in this article. Sorry if this offends you, but it's the way Wikipedia works. Grover cleveland (talk) 19:07, 4 August 2008 (UTC)
You're my new hero of analogies "I am a Danish" is the perfect analogue (from my limited German). I don't really have anything to add, I'd never heard the doughnut thing before visiting here but my German teacher (a native teaching me a basic course in technical German, but also a teacher of post A-level students) did point out that the use of ein in this instance was wrong; I made that mistake so many times! pbhj / (talk) 22:49, 26 June 2008 (UTC)
Guys, please stop speculating and read the Eichhoff article! Eichhoff is not only a native German speaker but a professional expert on the German language. If he says that Kennedy's phrase was correct, that should settle the matter, unless someone can find a comparable source to contradict him. (And by a "comparable source" we do NOT mean someone who has taken a few German lessons in high school!) Grover cleveland (talk) 14:54, 1 August 2008 (UTC)
All of this has already been discussed, including the above "I am a danish" insight. Have a look in the talk archives. ProhibitOnions (T) 08:14, 2 August 2008 (UTC)
The only people able to comment on whether Kennedy made an error or not are native German speakers, but more specifically those from Berlin. What do they generally say? There are many variants of German. (talk) 08:11, 23 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, when the Berliners (me included) here say "Ich bin ein Berliner!", there is a big poof and they turn into a jelly doughnut! No, seriously, it's not an issue. If anything, they wonder why Americans/English bring it up at all. I was, for example, at the 40th anniversary commemoration of the speech back in 2003 and I remember at the end: " American guitarist, Tom Cunningham, started some country-western numbers like “Born in the USA”. He said he’s got a daughter enrolled in JFK School too. Then he had to crack that old joke of Kennedy saying, back-translated “I am a jelly doughnut.” No one laughed near me; only I did, more out of surprised shock." (my full report at: Alandeus (talk) 14:20, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

I agree with the urban legend section, but...[edit]

I don't think it is being completely fair to say that it has NO basis in fact. The article admits that there is a pastry called a Berliner and it is known in many parts of Germany as that. The understanding of the German language and the Berlin dialect are what is wrong with the urban legend. Maybe I am being nit-picky, and I realize that myths have to be treated carefully, but a kernel of truth doesn't equal "no basis in fact" no matter how wrong something is.-- (talk) 18:04, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

I agree here; the phrase "no basis in fact" suggests to me that the article is getting defensive of JFK. The article itself mentions that in stating one's place of origin it is typical to omit the indefinite article in German; is that not a basis in fact, even if the conclusion is incorrect? -- (talk) 05:21, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

Oh, the user who reverted the article after I removed the phrase cited as his reason "until myths become facts, it has no basis in fact." Such an argument is completely invalid; nearly all myths have some basis in fact. I believe such a statement is both a misunderstanding of what a myth is (and truly, this "urban legend" is not even a myth) and a misunderstanding of what a basis in fact is. To state that a story has no basis in fact is quite different from stating that it is untrue. I don't want to start an edit war here, but the article should not have been reverted.-- (talk) 05:31, 15 April 2008 (UTC)

I believe the edit I just made created a more accurate phrasing; it is a fact that in parts of Germany there is a pastry called a Berliner, so the legend has a basis in some kind of fact, no matter how erroneously interpreted.--SockEat (talk) 03:20, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

actually saying "ich bin ein Berliner" sounds stronger in a speech than just saying "Ich bin Berliner", although it might be gramatically wrong. For the average german speaker this only adds the double meaning of doughnut/citizen from berlin, so unless you are higly educated in german language you would not waste your brainpower on thinking about what is correct, so there is no such urban legend in german speaking countrys. I sometimes joke about kennedy being a doughnut because were i come from these doughnut are called berliners, but if you walk into a bakery in berlin and ask for a "berliner", there is a good chance they have no idea what you are talking about, as they are called "pfannkuchen" here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:00, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

(Beating dead horses is fun)
I'm born and raised in Berlin and I can assure you the article as it stands now is correct, although I find the whole donut discussion a huge waste of time. Yes, there is a pastry called "Berliner", although it is *not* called Berliner in Berlin itself, it's called a Pfannkuchen. That's why for people from Berlin, there is a clear difference between "Ich bin ein Berliner" and "Ich bin ein Pfannkuchen". On the other hand, people from other areas in Germany do get a pretty obvious double meaning there, and it is mildly funny. Not as in rolling on the floor laughing funny, more "next joke please" funny. Note that many German words for people from a town are also names of food in German, compare Frankfurter (sausage), Wiener (also a sausage), Hamburger (beef patty in bread, although the pronunciation is different)...
As for "Ich bin Berliner", yes, that sentence is "safe" as the little grammatical difference means that it does not carry the double meaning. On the other hand, Kennedy wanted express that people can take pride in their heritage, and that is only carried by the sentence "Ich bin ein Berliner", not by "Ich bin Berliner". That is why the sentence "Ich bin Berliner" would not have had the same effect as "Ich bin ein Berliner".
To sum it up, yes, Kennedy said something that could be misunderstood as "I am a jelly donut", and yes, it's funny, but that does make the historical importance of these words any less. --Mkill (talk) 09:42, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

hm the debate seems now to be about whether Kennedy called himself a pancake or a doughnut; i would like to know what the Berliner call a pancake, because it's surely not Pfannkuchen! i'll probably hear some more krapfen on this. By the way, i think it rather immature for there to be a Big Pink Panel with a warning hand informing us of what to think, placed so as to catch the eye before reading on. i ask that this be removed in the interest of fairness and democracy; and i noticed how the fantastical claim of infinite unlikelihood has changed, moderated maybe, to one of extreme... Mkill, check your meaning *loools/points* "and yes, it's funny, but that does make the historical importance of these words any less">> Joe Chop (talk) 11:33, 30 May 2009 (UTC) Joe Chop (talk) 01:21, 1 June 2009 (UTC) Joe Chop

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:34, 26 May 2009 (UTC) 
I would like to point out that in most parts of Germany this kind of pastry is not known as "Berliner". In the eastern parts - including Berlin - this kind of pastry ist traditionally called "Pfannkuchen". The word "Krapfen" is used in the south, particularly in Bavaria. (Maybe nowadays you can hear "Krapfen" sometimes also in the capital, but it is neither the traditional word nor common there.) In the centre of the country this kind of pastry is called "Kräppel". Therefore many Germans definitely could not misunderstand Kennedy and even were not able to understand such kind of a joke. (I refer to my personal experience as a native German and to "dtv-Atlas Deutsche Sprache", 13th edition 2001, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, München, page 240, on the words "Krapfen/Pfannkuchen/Berliner".) -- (talk) 22:11, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Context is critical. "I am a New Yorker" spoken in in Nebraska would mean I am a denizen of NYC, and generally would not mean that I am a magazine, or a car, or, oddly enough, that I am a denizen of New York State or of Hamburg, NY. However, in Omaha, "I am a Hamburger" means I'm claiming to be a burger, either insanely or in some sort of metaphorical way (you are what you eat?). however
There are native speakers who were residents of Berlin at the time the speech and got a chuckle out of the possible double meaning. Though they may not call certain doughnuts "Berliners" they know the use of the term
As for the pat tone of the warning at the top of this page "Kennedy did not say 'I am a donut'. Period," it is abusive and, dare I say it, fascist. It is also false is some respects, period: "Ich bin ein Berliner"--, especially spoken to a national or world audience as JFK surely was, has more than one possible meaning. One of those meanings is "I am a jelly donut." Under the circumstances it was apparently not intended as a joke or some sort of weird food metaphor, it also did not mean that Kennedy was, in fact, a citizen or resident of Berlin, as they knew he was not. Instead it was meant and understood as a metaphorical claim of fraternity and solidarity between all free people and the people of Berlin.
Fascist? Seriously? Shaking my head in disappointment and contempt. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:59, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

Origins of Donut Legend[edit]

I wonder how old the story is, and how it got started. If someone has access to old copies of the Reader's Digest, it should appear in one of the humor-in-real-life columns, possibly in the 1970's, or early 1980's. The way I remember it, the submitter claimed his/her parent was told the story by a tour bus operator in Berlin. SlowJog (talk) 15:44, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

P.S. If anyone can find that entry in The R.D., I think she/he would also note that the tour guide said that the people who heard the speech took the meaning J.F.K. intended. They were caught up in the enthusiasm and emotion of the speech, and did not notice the mistake. SlowJog (talk) 21:07, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

The earliest mention in the article is the 1983 Len Deighton novel. It would seem plausible that the purely fictional mention of the doughnut story in the novel gradually got confused for a true story. Grover cleveland (talk) 04:18, 17 August 2008 (UTC)
If anyone can research old copies of The Reader's Digest and find it, it would be interesting to see if it was before the Len Deighton novel. SlowJog (talk) 19:08, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
It is not a legend. It is a fact. (talk) 03:41, 9 November 2014 (UTC)

The "Kölsch" translation is wrong[edit]

The "jelly donut" story makes not sense, that's correct. "Ich bin ein Berliner" could have been misunderstood as "I am a jelly-filled donut" - but only if during one the most emotional times in Berlin and one of the most important speeches (from a Berliner point of view) by the most powerful person in the world, talking about world politics for 90 minutes, someone was only thinking about something to eat... Well, in short: It makes no sense at all.

However, if the "Ich bin ein Kölsch" story by Bill Clinton is true, he did make a mistake: A "Kölsch" is only the beer, definitely not an inhabitant of Cologne, who is still called "ein Kölner" (or maybe "ein Kölsche Jung" or something like that) - but "ein Kölsch" can never be confused, especially in a bar. When the bar man doesn't react on "bring mir ein Kölsch" (bring me a beer!!!), he gets killed :-) Sorry, Bill... but I guess everyone was happy and laughed, and no-one felt offended by the mistake.

For my reputation, I am a native speaker of German and have lived here for all of my life. -- (talk) 17:16, 22 July 2008 (UTC)


In 1999, President Cliton was in Cologne. He wanted to say in German: "I am a Cologne". In German there are two variants: "Ich bin ein Kölner" (the standrad German variant) or "Ich bin ein kölsche Jung" (translate: I'am a boy from Colonge, this is normaly use by people from Cologne). But the President mixed both and said: "Ich bin ein Kölsch" (translate: I´m a Beer).[2] —Preceding unsigned comment moved here from article by Alandeus (talkcontribs) 15:48, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

And you would have gone for English, the best you could, and said "I am a...erm, de Cologne, right? ;) (talk) 12:34, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

References in popular culture & Obama?[edit]

Why? why is this comment in this article. Reagan's speech is not include, and so why has Obama. I like him, I just think that including it here is not needed. As a US President Reagan's speech had more connection to Kennedy's then does Obama's. To me this looks like propaganda. -- (talk) 09:12, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

As is explained in the inline comment in the article, we cannot add every instance where someone references the phrase. Therefore I've removed the section on Obama to here. Please don't put it back, because then we would have to add every place where anyone has ever referenced the legend (and this one is particularly un-notable).
In anticipation of a speech to be given by presumptive U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama in Berlin on July 24, 2008, at least one U.S. news source candidly referred to Mr. Obama's potential mangling of the phrase as "Ich bin ein Beginner!" [3] [4]
Obama es un chango feo. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:32, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Another editor has questioned the removal of the Obama reference, so I'll repeat the reply that I originally posted on my talk page:
As far as I can see, the reference to Obama is simply one commentator on Fox News making a rather unfunny joke, which seems to have originated in the right-wing blogosphere. It's not as though Obama said it himself. I can't see how this is something to "merit particular attention and relevance". Even the Clinton reference to beer is arguably more notable, since the former president is alleged to have said the words himself (although I don't think the Clinton reference belongs in the article either). Grover cleveland (talk) 04:44, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Popular culture[edit]

While sometimes Wikipedia seems like SimpsonPedia, or USPresidentialCandidatePedia, it is not. Accordingly, I have moved these factoids from the article. Please make a case for their inclusion here. siℓℓy rabbit (talk) 16:33, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Material moved from article[edit]

For example, in anticipation of a speech to be given by U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama in Berlin on July 24, 2008, a cartoonist on the website depicted Obama saying "Ich bin ein beginner".[5]. The joke was repeated on Fox News by commentator Brit Hume.[6]

On The Simpsons, Grandpa said he knew "Kennedy's dark secret." In the subsequent flashback Kennedy is standing on the bow of the pt boat PT-109 during World War II and says "''Ich bin ein berliner''" after which Grandpa yells "Nazi!" and pushes him overboard.

Ensuing discussion[edit]

I am of the opinion that these do not belong in the article; these are the kinds of things you see in lists of miscellaneous information at the ends of articles that aren't particularly good. It is not the aim of wikipedia to make reference to every joke included in the Simpsons, nor to include every detail of what happens to be the current presidential campaign in the United States.-- (talk) 06:51, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Verification of Berlin game quote[edit]

An anon IP recently changed a quoted passage in the text. I have verified that the original statement was correct (prior to the change). Here is a google books link to a snippet containing the quote in question. siℓℓy rabbit (talk) 21:43, 5 October 2008 (UTC)


Why not link to the text at Wikiquote [5] instead of some other source? --JensMueller (talk) 20:29, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

  • We already link to wikisource, in the box in the external links section. The one external link with the speech is redundant, I'd keep it for the pictures and for a second audio source, but feel free to remove it if you disagree. --Amalthea 17:50, 29 December 2008 (UTC)

Reference problem[edit]

This text is given as a quotation:

Kennedy should have said "Ich bin Berliner" to mean "I am a person from Berlin." By adding the indefinite article ein, his statement implied he was a non-human Berliner, thus "I am a jelly doughnut".

But the corresponding reference doesn't contain this exact quote at all. So where did it come from? It's all over the internet, but that seems to be because people are taking it from this page. Can anyone say where this pair of sentences originally came from? Lfh (talk) 11:55, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

I should clarify that I am not talking about the "legend" itself - nobody wants to bring that up again - just the exact phrasing above, which appears to be original to Wikipedia. Lfh (talk) 12:06, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
You are correct. This is going to have to be tweaked, and sourced better. Drmies (talk) 17:26, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
See e.g. U.S. presidents as orators: a bio-critical sourcebook, p. 219. As the book is from 1995, this particular form of the misconception didn't originate from Wikipedia. Hans Adler 22:31, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

Urban Legend[edit]

Everyone keeps attacking the people who bring up whether the term Kennedy used is an urban legend, or it isn't. The problem is is that it is NO legend! Does anyone who dismisses new arguments actually speak German? President Kennedy said "I am a Berliner," although he did also say that he was a doughnut. Absurb, but correct. To imply that the speculation is a legend is to say that the sun and the moon and the earth are all urban legends.

All terms on the page referring to an "urban legend" should be replaced with something to the effect of "speculation" or "controversies." Change the term and all this will go away. Too much effort has been put into fending off discussion about the term when all of it could be avoided by a clarification of the flexible term. GnarlyLikeWhoa (talk) 02:47, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

The "Urban Legend" is that Kennedy made an embarrassing mistake. I think the article explains this pretty well. Grover cleveland (talk) 03:15, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
The point where the story stops being the truth and starts being an urban legend is: "made an embarrassing grammatical error". I am a native speaker of German. I spent most of my life in southern Germany, where jelly doughnuts are called "Berliner". But even as a child I learned (with no reference to Kennedy whatsoever) that in Berlin the same thing is always called a "Pfannkuchen" (literally "pancake") instead, sometimes in its long form "Berliner Pfannkuchen". This is generally known in Germany. People make jokes about it. And I don't just know it from the media, my wife lived in Berlin for three years and I have seen the inside of a lot of different bakeries there. They all called it "Pfannkuchen", including the Turkish ones.
These things are explained in sufficient detail in the big red box at the top of this article, and they are exactly right as explained. Moreover, they are sourced perfectly well, to a German source from Berlin. You may not be able to read it because it's in German, but obviously such information about the German language is most reliable when actually presented by German speakers.
Suppose President Obama visits Hamburg, and out of compassion for the poor people living there (who love English culture but are separated from their beloved England by the North Sea) says in English: "I am a Hamburger" (note the capitalisation). Then this will be a perfectly correct sentence that is not the least bit misleading or embarrassing. However, some people will think it funny to feign misunderstanding. Basically that's what happened in the Kennedy/Berliner case.
Kennedy said something that was perfectly OK and not funny at all. Nobody laughed at the time. Then his sentence was very widely reported. And then some people willfully misinterpreted him to be funny.
This could have been avoided if someone had thought of it beforehand. Most native speakers would not have thought of it before it happened. But perhaps they even anticipated that it could happen and decided that the fact that "Ich bin ein Berliner" scans slightly better than "Ich bin Berliner" was more relevant.
As to the term urban legend: As a native speaker of German I again have an advantage. Because in German the English term exists as a foreign term, and has exactly the same meaning as in English. It is the meaning that is described in our article urban legend. Hans Adler 17:09, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
I believe that if the President of the United States of America meant to comically imply that he was a jelly doughnut, that that would most certainly be an urban legend. GnarlyLikeWhoa (talk) 17:53, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

Quote "Does anyone [...] speak German?" Answer: there are dozens of Germans who have bookmarked this page and you will find that during the lengthy discussions above ALL of them agreed that the "jelly doughnut" interpretation is untrue. In other word: there is no controversy among native speakers. There is even no speculation that the legend started in the English-speaking world as the legend is largely unknown in German-speaking countries. No need to give that Urban Legend a chance to come out different than what it is so obviously. Guidod (talk) 20:37, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

For what it's worth:, the expert website, recently put out a piece on this: Alandeus (talk) 14:31, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

December 2009 Vote on Removal of Urban Legend Language[edit]

I will remove all language from this article referring to an "urban legend" of the President's choice of words if there is no resolution by Tuesday 15 Decemeber 2009 12:00 PM PST. Here is the question (please respond "Aye", "No" or "Not Voting"):

Shall the "urban legend" language in this article remain in place ? GnarlyLikeWhoa (talk) 02:32, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

YES. It is indeed an urban legend. There is an article about this on the Urban Legends Reference Pages. The previous post makes no sense. Reywas92Talk 02:52, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

YES. While it is NOT a normal legend, it is nevertheless an URBAN legend. Alandeus (talk) 07:21, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

YES. See above. And Wikipedia is full of native speakers of German like me, including some who live in Berlin and many from outside. If this article was as wrong as you suggest someone would have noticed by now. Hans Adler 17:14, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

NO. See section 17. Anyway, I appreciate the democratic process. However, the jihad-like effort to keep gray area language in this article is disturbing. The biggest point I wanted to make is it's not what the President's point was, but what he literally said. GnarlyLikeWhoa (talk) 17:47, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

Even that is simply not true. "Berliner" (= doughnut) and "Berliner" (= inhabitant or native of Berlin) are homonyms just like "cell" and "cell". If you enter a terrorist cell it's one kind of cell, and if you enter a monk's cell it's a completely different word that's merely spelled and pronounced the same way. And in German if you eat or buy a Berliner it's one kind of Berliner, and if you are or greet a Berliner it's the other kind. You had better not confuse the two, or you might get into trouble. Hans Adler 19:44, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
This section is dedicated to voting. What you're doing is a kind of electioneering; in any case, I really hope you don't think you're swaying my vote. Thank you. GnarlyLikeWhoa (talk) 20:07, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
Might I remind the editors here, there is no voting when reaching consensus. Paranormal Skeptic (talk) 20:18, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
There should never be a pure vote on Wikipedia. It should be a discussion, which is the purpose of the discussion page. While you may be too ignorant of the German (as there are many native and non-native speakers who know that what Kennedy said was "I am a person from Berlin") to realize that anything said about him referencing a doughnut is an utter falsehood, per the very numerous reasons that the President was correct and no one misunderstood him, we are providing reasons to make sure no one else thinks Kennedy is a jelly doughnut. Reywas92Talk 20:55, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

KEEP, see above, clearly an Urban Legend, greetings from Berlin. Guidod (talk) 20:30, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

  • A couple of you seem to be all geared up to argue this, and I have absolutely zero interest in getting in the way of that, but if I could interject with just a tiny bit of reason here... I'd like to bring up the point that since this is an encyclopedia entry, we as editors should not be editorializing on the content. We should be parroting what others say, not making value judgments about the content of what those people are saying. That some people hold a belief that the Kennedy speech had something to do with doughnuts seems rather self evident just from this talk page. Regardless of the truth of that, if a secondary source has talked about this at all then there should be something in the article about it. Wikipedia should not espouse fringe theories (or common theories, for that matter), but it shouldn't attempt to cover them up or directly refute them either. As editors we should of course minimize the coverage given to fringe theories, and we should provide statements which show that they are fringe theories, but it's not our place to directly refute or rebut these sorts of statements. Readers aren't stupid anyway, so if we do our work correctly here then there really shouldn't be any issue with this sort of thing.
    V = I * R (talk to Ω) 20:25, 10 December 2009 (UTC)
    • Well, it's a myth, it's busted, and it's vividly spreading on the "friend-of-a-friend" characteristic that is common to urban legends. Calling it an urban legend is simply referring to what it is based on the characteristics - so whatever might be called "personal judgement" is really just a correct deduction from the facts. And from my POV it is a neutral designation (compared to what it could be called as well - but the article text is a consensus that was worked hard upon and there has been no new argument presented so far that would make it look a good deed to stir up the discussions). Guidod (talk) 23:41, 10 December 2009 (UTC)

lede too long[edit]

Hi, the lede is too long compared to the rest of the article, and needs to be balanced to accurately summarise the article as a whole. I will add this to my long list of things to look at that never seem to get done. Brilliantine (talk) 01:07, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Of course Kennedy said he was a doughnut. It is the height of Wikipedia arrogance to think they know more than all the media outlets mentioned (citation not needed) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:18, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

Not an encyclopedia --[edit]

So, this controversy is interesting. I am a German speaker, and have lived in Germany, though not in Berlin. If I were to say "I am a citizen of Berlin", I would indeed say "Ich bin Berliner". "Ich bin ein Berliner" is not the way to convey that information -- ein Berliner, ein Frankfurter, ein Hamburger - these are all food items. It is true that the Berliners assembled for the speech immediately knew what Kennedy was saying - essentially that he supported West Berlin as an outpost of democracy surrounded by the communist East Germany. It was a profound political statement. Nonetheless, it was also funny - therefore probably the perfect political statement. There seems to be a "truthiness" contingent about German grammar in this discussion seemingly based on egotism, jingoism and who has the most time to waste posting to this article - which is why Wikipedia will remain a "mental masturbation" site, and never really an encyclopedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by ManyFireflies (talkcontribs) 20:37, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

To me, "Ich bin Berliner" sounds as the kind of thing you would normally say to express where you are from. "Ich bin ein Berliner" is what you would say to emphasise the fact and present it as something special. That's why the first sentence appears much more often in ordinary speech. Try replacing "Berliner" by "Stuttgarter" or better even "Bäcker", and you may see a bit better what I mean. By saying "Ich bin Berliner" you explain where you are from or where you are living. By saying "Ich bin ein Berliner" you take a category of people – people from or in Berlin – and say that you fall into this category. This is a subtle distinction, but in this particular situation, when the people of Berlin felt a strong sense of all being in the same boat, what Kennedy said was exactly what he wanted to express: that he shared that feeling, and that in his mind he was also one of them. Not that he happened to come from or live in Berlin. Compare the following Google searches:
  • "Ich bin Dreher"
  • "Ich bin ein Dreher"
  • "Ich bin Dichter"
  • "Ich bin ein Dichter"
The marked differences between the occupation and the vocation (Beruf und Berufung) are telling. If this still doesn't convince you, look at this Google Books search for "Ich bin ein Berliner" in books that appeared until 1950. I think the sentence "Ich bin ein Berliner, kein Preuße, ausgenommen wo in meinem Berliner Leben eine Lücke ist" from one of the hits demonstrates the special character of the phrase "ich bin ein Berliner" quite well. Hans Adler 08:00, 21 September 2010 (UTC)
PS: In the meantime I looked it up. First, if you really think this article wrong, then I think it would be a good idea to try 'correcting' the German article first. Presumably a Wikipedia consisting entirely of native speakers should have a better grip on such linguistic matters. Second, the German Wikipedia has the following aside: "Abgesehen davon, dass der unbestimmte Artikel im Deutschen korrekterweise bei Nomen verwendet wird, die als Stellvertreter einer Klasse auftreten, [...]". That's the official linguistic explanation [6] and quite similar to what I came up with independently above: The indefinite article ein appears when "Berliner" is used for a representative of the class of Berliners. That's exactly what Kennedy wanted to paint himself as. Hans Adler 08:40, 21 September 2010 (UTC)
PPS: An encyclopedia is much more useful if it contains accurate information rather than simply the most common beliefs. In this case the most accurate information is obviously that available from linguists and from sources in German. There is no evidence of a debate about this among linguists. There is evidence of a debate in non-scientific German sources and in German fora, but that's mainly because the idea of this misunderstanding is so attractive and most people are no good at understanding even their own use of their native language. Hans Adler 08:50, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

Sound File[edit]

The sound file in this article is interrupted at exactly 4:00 minutes with a voice that is distinctly not Kennedy's (then the speech resumes). Has this sound file been "doctored"? The voice is very similar to that of Goebbels. What's up with that? Dr. Dan (talk) 04:29, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

The voice definitely doesn't sound like that of Goebbels at all. The sentence is "Aber lasst auch sie nach Berlin kommen." (But let them come to Berlin as well.) This is a fragment of the official German translation of Kennedy's speech. Apparently the German translation was generally cut out from the file, but at this point the editor made a mistake and left one sentence in. (It's a German voice, and there is less overdrive, presumably because the German speaker was not using a different microphone etc., or was better used to it.) The editor may have been confused because shortly before 4:00 Kennedy did incorporate a similar German sentence. (At 3:54: "Lasst sie nach Berlin kommen – let them come to Berlin.") Hans Adler 08:22, 21 September 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. I was concerned that someone might have slipped something into the recording. As for the "definitely doesn't sound like", I still think there was a strong resemblance to PJG's voice. Maybe it was also in the voice's inflection. I'll take your word on it though. Dr. Dan (talk) 17:22, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

To emphesise Ich bin e i n Berliner[edit]

Part of that text is incorrect :

It's worth recalling, again, President John F. Kennedy's use of a German phrase while standing before the Berlin Wall. It would be great, his wordsmiths thought, for him to declare himself a symbolic citizen of Berlin. Hence, Ich bin ein Berliner. What they did not know, but could easily have found out, was that such citizens never refer to themselves as "Berliners." They reserve that term for a favorite confection often munched at breakfast. So, while they understood and appreciated the sentiments behind the President's impassioned declaration, the residents tittered among themselves when he exclaimed, literally, "I am a jelly-filled doughnut."[5]

Of course Berliners do refer to themself as Berliners, when they are asked where they are from, they say Ich bin Berliner and when someone asks them, if they are from somewhere else, they say, nein, ich bin ein Berliner. In other words to emphesise identification with Berliners one would say Ich bin e i n Berliner, could also say Ich bin a u c h e i n Berliner, I am also a Berliner. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

You are of course totally right – except about the minor detail that the article doesn't claim that Berliners don't refer to themselves as such. It quotes a New York Times editorial from 1988. I have now slightly adjusted the text so that this is a bit more clear.
By the way, the misconception is so wide-spread that it's hard to defend this article against the "no smoke without fire" crowd who believe if enough people believe something it becomes true. Hans Adler 09:45, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

+ 1 - it is common to refer to the inhabitants of Berlin as "Berliners" - this urban myth is quite funny, but it is nonsense. In German both sentences "Ich bin Berliner" or "Ich bin ein Berliner" are correctly understood - the second one is a kind of slang, the first one is the "Hochsprache", official German. Obviously Kennedy was not well advised to use this kind of slang. I have never heared of this misconception in about fourty years of reading newspapers and looking television - this quotation is still very popular and important for the history of Berlin - this urban myth must have spread years after the event only in the english-speaking press (will be interesting to look for the first source for it) Plehn (talk) 20:01, 19 October 2010 (UTC)

further : I just see the box about this problem on this discussion page now - it cannot be better clarified than in the few sentences of this box - as it can be seen in this discussion there were still mistakes in the text in september 2010. Obviously the German speaking world does not refer to this urban myth, because this speech was too important for Berlin. Plehn (talk) 20:11, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
The article was correct in September. The original poster had thought that a literal quotation (an example of the misconception from the New York Times) was part of what the article says itself. In the meantime I have put a box around the quotation to prevent the confusion. Hans Adler 21:10, 19 October 2010 (UTC)

(Berliner) Pfannkuchen[edit]

That the Berliner Pfannkuche would be called simply a Pfannkuche in Berlin is not yet verified by the sources, and is actually belied by this reference, which is much more reliable than this website, and says, "to those who live in Berlin, the phrase 'ein Berliner' means a kind of jelly donut." So, I'm sorry, but I am going to revert this edit]--I'm sure, though, that you can more easily find a better source than I can, and I welcome a revert, but with a better source than that website. Thanks, Drmies (talk) 23:54, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Your "more reliable" source is simply wrong. Presumably the author (or someone the author copied from) wrote "those who live in Berlin" as a purely stylistic variation on "in German". The problem with half-knowledge is that you are always in danger of applying a logical transformation that is theoretically valid but not in practice, e.g. because you are specialising a general statement to the one, rare exception, as happened here. Similarly to how "Frankfurter" sausages are known in Vienna but not in Frankfurt, and "Wiener" sausages are known in Frankfurt but not in Vienna, these doughnuts are known as "Berliner" in most of Germany but only as "[Berliner] Pfannkuchen" in Berlin.
This is not the kind of information that the most reliable sources usually write about, but here is something from the Deutsche Welle website: "In Berlin verlangt man beim Bäcker Schrippen statt Brötchen. Eine belegte Scheibe Brot heißt hier Stulle. Und die anderswo als Berliner bekannten Hefeteig-Kugeln nennt man in der deutschen Hauptstadt Pfannkuchen." My translation: "In Berlin you ask the baker for Schrippen instead of Brötchen [= bread rolls]. A slice of bread with something on it is here called a Stulle. And the yeast balls otherwise known as Berliner are called Pfannkuchen in the German capital." I can confirm this from personal experience. My wife and daughter lived in Berlin for several years, and in the local bakeries these things are always called Pfannkuchen or Berliner Pfannkuchen. "Berliner" is recognised by most Berliners, but they wouldn't normally use this abbreviation. If you think about it, this makes perfect sense, too. Hans Adler 07:44, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Haha, I'll take your word for it. If you give me the link for the DW info I'll see about sticking it in as properly as I can. Yes, I remember hearing the word Stulle now--I had a hard time figuring out what it meant. If I remember correctly, I heard it on the Eastern side, so to speak, in 1990. Hey, thanks for your help. Drmies (talk) 12:56, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Oops. I meant to give you the link right away, of course: [7]. As it is on the website of a German public broadcaster, the page will be gone rather soon (6 months? 12 months?) for a stupid legal reason. So you had better use a web archiving service. Hans Adler 18:26, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

In addition to the source cited by Hans Adler, here is some more evidence for the so far undisputed fact that Berliners say 'Pfannkuchen' for what is known as 'Berliner' (and several other names) in other areas of Germany. This is just to appease the doubters - I think it would look rather ridiculous to put sources next to a sentence stating an obvious fact, but I concede it's a matter of taste. At the bottom, there's also some Dutch sources, including one from de Volkskrant, I hope Drmies can accept it as "reliable". :) Here we go:

And here are some results in Dutch, especially for Drmies.  ;)

--kate theobaldy (talk) 20:08, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

In the more than two weeks that have passed since I posted the above list, Drmies made numerous edits elsewhere. I take it that s/he has either forgotten about it, or, more probably, is no longer arguing against the notion that "Berliner" are simply called "Pfannkuchen" in Berlin. I therefore suggest we consider the case closed. --11:18, 1 September 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kate theobaldy (talkcontribs)

I am from Germany and it is true that in Berlin, they say "Pfannkuchen" and not "Berliner". In the article it still says "known in Berlin as a "Berliner"", which is clearly wrong. Even one of the links cited there confirms the Pfannkuchen: "Diese Urban Legend ist schon alleine weil Berliner »Pfannkuchen« zu eben dieser süßen Speise sagen ziemlicher Unsinn [...]" (translated: "This urban legend is pretty absurd not only because people from Berlin call this sweet dish "Pfannkuchen""). -- (talk) 19:06, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

Necessary correction taken. Erledigt. Alandeus (talk) 10:26, 15 October 2012 (UTC)
Maybe the most reliable source for the use of Berliner/Pfannkuchen is Augsburg University's German department's continuous survey for word preferences/dialects within German-speaking countries: I amended the article accordingly. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:01, 14 January 2015 (UTC)


Let us now hear the verdict from on high:

"Kennedy did not say 'I am a donut'. Period."

So much for "anyone can edit" on Wikipedia! What a joke. Some administrator gives their verdict, "PERIOD," and after that no further debate is allowed. My junior high school German teacher, who was a native of Germany, is the person I first heard the jelly doughnut story from, so no, it is not merely a non-German invention. But I guess it's pointless to discuss it on this authoritarian website. Troglo (talk) 23:26, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

The verdict is not from administrators ... it is from the numerous native Germans that happen to be editors on the English wikipedia as well. And yes, it is pretty pointless to argue unless you can get your junior high teacher online - notably it's at the core of these friend of a friend tales to say that someone once met some native German who told something - although in fact it is many years back and the memory may have blurred by a fair amount. Guidod (talk) 23:53, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
There is a kernel of truth in the story that makes it convincing enough that many Germans who hear it believe it. But that alone doesn't make it true. We have academic publications explaining why it isn't true. The native speakers of German who edit this article find these explanations absolutely convincing. Some of the reasons:
  • On the recording of Kennedy's speech, you can hear that nobody laughs after any of the several times he says the sentence. The audience only laughs after he jokingly thanks his interpreter for 'translating' the German sentence to German: "I appreciate my interpreter translating my German!"
  • It's a well known fact among Germans that the local expression for "Berliner" (jam-filled doughnut) is "[Berliner] Pfannkuchen". If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. E.g., there is a type of large cookie known as "Amerikaner" in German. Even if it were called "American cookie" in the US, certainly nobody there would even think of abbreviating it to "American". But it's not even known as "American cookie", it's known as "black and white cookie".
  • The lay-linguistic analysis saying that the word "ein" was wrong in the sentence, although convincing to many native speakers, is simply wrong. This is what a professional German linguist says (and we have none who contradicts it), and it's also what Google Books searches for parallel phrases with "Berliner" replaced by "Bremener", "Münchener" etc. (nouns for people from other cities) indicate. Using "ein" or dropping it does make a difference, but it is a subtle nuance and in this speech "ein" was even more correct. On this talk page you can see where I described this nuance based on my own sense of language and Google searches, before I found the professional linguistic analysis that says essentially the same thing.
Examples of where this is discussed intelligently in German include the German Wikipedia and this blog post by a German linguist who was born in Berlin. He quotes Michael Jennings of Princeton University as follows:
After you wrote to me, I did a bit of informal research myself — talking to lots of friends in Berlin. And their responses were all over the map. Certainly the most common and accepted way to say “I’m a resident of Berlin” is “Ich bin Berliner,” i.e. without the indefinite article. But, for many speakers, it is by no means incorrect or ungrammatical to say “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Some of my respondents in fact applauded Kennedy on his nuanced use of German, since for them the sentence without the indefinite article implies that the speaker is a native Berliner, while the sentence with “ein” suggests either more recent residence in Berlin or even solidarity with its inhabitants (which was clearly Kennedy/Sorenson’s intention).
Then he explains that the nuance is actually slightly different. Kennedy had to use "ein" because he wasn't accidentally a Berliner by virtue of living there, but wanted to express that he felt that he belonged to the category of Berliners. While even professionals have trouble expressing this and leaving out the word "ein" would have been no real problem, the German native speaker who wrote the sentence for Kennedy must have felt intuitively that with "ein" it was better style. He certainly never thought about the theoretical ambiguity. Language is ambiguous all the time, and we never have problems resolving ambiguities from context. German is no different from English in this respect. If a German told you in English "I'm a Hamburger", you wouldn't be confused, and after the tenth time you would probably stop finding it funny. Hans Adler 05:03, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
And I'd like to add that the "ein" certainly also gives emphasis to the implication of solidatiry mentioned adove. Alandeus (talk) 07:48, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

For anyone *still* not convinced, there is a very nice video explaining the myth on YouTube, featuring an excerpt of the Kennedy speech and a real Berliner Pfannkuchen: How edible was JFK? Hans Adler 08:54, 4 May 2014 (UTC)

By the way, nobody puts jelly in doughnuts, it's JAM[edit]

By the way, nobody puts jelly in doughnuts, it's JAM, as in jam doughnut. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:15, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

But the more common term is jelly doughnuts even if there is jam in there. See the the difference in Google hits and countless references to this urban legend for example. Will have to correct everything back to jelly. Alandeus (talk) 15:24, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
This is primarily an American myth, and Americans call jam jelly. If the definitions at Fruit preserves#Jam and Fruit preserves#Jelly can be believed, there is actually a slight semantic difference. The kind of jam found in Berliners does not contain pieces of fruit, so according to those definitions it would be jelly, not jam. Hans Adler 20:57, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

"jelly" is not more common - only in the US. There is an entire English speaking world out there. Although some may call it jelly, they are incorrect to do so. It is jam. Jam can indeed be "smooth style" i.e. not containing large pieces of fruit and is indeed often contained in doughnuts. Jam Doughnut is the correct term. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:15, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Reverting to jelly. Reminder (see above): The more common term is jelly doughnuts and the countless references to this urban legend are jelly. And: This is primarily an American myth. Finally, this article is in US English. “Jam doughnut” is therefore not the correct term.Alandeus (talk) 14:46, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
In American English, jam and jelly are simply different things. Jelly is fruit juice with gelatin or pectin added to thicken it. Jam is mashed fruit with pectin, and it is not strained. However, "Jelly Donut" includes all filled donuts, sometimes excluding "cream" fillings. (cream fillings are often A jam-filled donut is still a "jelly donut," but "toast and jam" would always have jam. This isn't any more confusing to Americans than "ich bin ein Berliner" would be to a Berliner. ;) Etymology is not authoritative, usage is. (talk) 05:24, 20 February 2016 (UTC)

It is not "more common". The fact that many in the US use the incorrect word is irrelevant. What the doughnut contains is in fact JAM. This is an inescapable fact. You cannot just "declare" jelly to be in more common usage, which in any case is irrelevant. The correct word is Jam. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

it is more common. Any more changes will be treated like vandalism. Hot Stop talk-contribs 23:18, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Who elected you jelly furher? Jelly IS NOT MORE COMMON! It may be to YOU, and a number of others, but you are all wrong. There is an whole world outside the US. Many people speak English. To the overwhelming majority JAM is the correct term. Neither you nor the US are the centre of the universe. Any reverts will be treated as vandalism.

Again, the myth is of US origin, so it is named by its original name. Any modifications will be treated as vandalism, just as it was handled in the years before. Guidod (talk) 19:58, 19 July 2014 (UTC)

AGAIN, the origin of the myth is irrelevant. The word in common useage in the English language for the foodstuff concerned is undoubtedly JAM. Jelly is an entirely different substance. Any reverts will be treated as vandalism. Stop being so US-centric. Stop dictating to others.

Stop dictating how others use their language - you have even changed quoted speech, so you have modified history. Note that there is no US-English wikipedia, there is just one covering all the flavours of English. If there is a story based in a specific region that its style of English is being given priority - you may put explanations in parenthesis for other regions (like we do for metric measures) but just converting all references of "jelly" to "jam" is no option. Guidod (talk) 16:54, 20 July 2014 (UTC)

from a native German[edit]

If somebody in germany says "I am a Berliner" (Ich bin ein Berliner) nobody thinks of a doughnut. So it is clear in germany nobody laughed when he said "Ich bin ein Berliner." This joke is a completely american invention. Is is not known in Germany.
Jms (talk) 15:50, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

There are differences between German as spoken in Berlin, and elsewhere. Do we have a comment from a well-educated Berliner, that should put an end to the matter?Royalcourtier (talk) 20:04, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

  • sigh* YES. Read the rest of this talk page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:11, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

Removed reference to "Management Review"[edit]

I've removed the following text from the article:

The origin of the misconception is obscure. An early sighting occurred in volume 55 of Management Review (1966):

John F. Kennedy's famous words "Ich bin ein Berliner" created confused reactions among his German audience. What he meant, of course, was "I am a citizen of Berlin". What he actually said came closer to "I am a doughnut". Because the translation followed the English construction word for word, it included the article "ein" for "a". "Ein berliner," in German, is a type of cruller - a flat doughnut.[7]

The editor has been misled by the way Google Books dates periodicals: it dates the entire series based on the date of the first issue. In fact, it is apparent that this issue of Management Review is from the mid-to-late 1980s -- probably mid 1986, based on an advertisement for a conference in June of that year, which can easily be found by searching for the string "1986" within the volume.. Grover cleveland (talk) 08:56, 8 January 2013 (UTC)


  1. ^ 'Little Berlin' marks 40th anniversary of its own Cold War wall
  2. ^,1518,27712,00.html
  3. ^ 'Special Report' Panel on Barack Obama's Trip to Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian Prisoner Swap[1]
  4. ^ Ich Bin Ein Obama Headline! [2]
  5. ^ "Cartoons by Michael Ramirez". 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  6. ^ "'Special Report' Panel on Barack Obama's Trip to Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian Prisoner Swap". 2008-07-21. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  7. ^ [3]

Article POV[edit]

I don't want to comment on whether Kennedy make a grammatical error in German or not, but the tone of the article as a whole is POV. To say that the "speech is considered one of Kennedy's best, both a notable moment of the Cold War and a high point of the New Frontier" is unreferenced confused and unencyclopaedic. A speech may be at a "notable moment", and a high point of the "New Frontier". That may make a speech important, but does not make it better or the best. To say that it was "a great morale boost for West Berliners" is simply unreferenced opinion. Unless these opinions can be adequately supported by credible references, they should be deleted. (talk) 03:51, 9 November 2014 (UTC)

POV and Grammar[edit]

Just a brief comment about the final sentence in the introduction. "To Germans his words were received with sincerity, very endearing and very uniquely American!" Clearly this is not an objective POV, especially with no citation or reference. Both uses of the word "very" are meaningless and unnecessary. Finally, An exclamation point has no place outside of a quote in a Wikipedia article. Dkelber (talk) 14:06, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to one external link on Ich bin ein Berliner. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true to let others know.

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers. —cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 09:17, 26 August 2015 (UTC)