Ick bin ein Berliner!*


September 15, 2012 by anelim

Ah so. Let the rambling begin.

But where do I begin it? A multi-lingual, enthusiastic, young-feeling, 30-something, east-west European wanna-be academic sociologist finds herself in Berlin for ten months. Almost a year, give or take. Take. And give. Both. Sitting on the bus from the airport today I realised that I would be here for a mere 300 days. Anyway, the point is, I am here now, and I would like to remember every single one of the days ahead. Perhaps this blog will help.

*On 26 June, 1963, US President J.F. Kennedy gave a speech in West Berlin in which he said, twice, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner‘. This was an important speech in which he expressed the USA’s support of Western Germany and in effect spoke against the newly erected Wall which was to divide the west from the east for decades ahead. The phrase is widely referred to as wrong, because Kennedy (well, his speech writers) used a definite article in front of ‘Berliner’. What he meant was ‘I am a citizen of Berlin’; what he actually said meant instead ‘I am a doughnut’. Me foreigner, me like this story. This sort of stuff happens all the time. If you guys live your lives in a foreign language, as I do (English), you know that you are bound to make silly mistakes all the time, and sometimes people remember not the smart stuff you say, but your silly mistakes or mannerisms. And that’s fine. But it is nice to know that someone might occasionally remember the real message – even if they won’t write a wikipedia article on it!

In the Berlin area, apparently, people pronounce the personal pronoun ‘ich’ more like ‘ick’. So I’ve heard. I shall find out the truth of this statement pretty soon!

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September 2012
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