Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Yam Not a Loser, and Neither is JFK

Thought for the day:  A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition.  William Arthur Ward

Do you remember (or have you heard about) the speech President Kennedy made in West Germany on June 26, 1963? That was just twenty-two months after the Berlin wall went up, and he attempted to express his solidarity with the people of West Germany that day. His exact words were: Ich bin ein Berliner.

Unfortunately, a Berliner happens to be a type of jelly donut made in Berlin, and following that speech, President Kennedy got a merciless ribbing in the media for allegedly making a linguistic faux pas by declaring to the German people: I am a jelly donut.  He took the worst ribbing from America's so-called liberal press, but he also made the news in other parts of the world, as well, and for years,  teachers all over America have referenced this speech when instructing their German classes about the proper and improper use of the word ein. Check out what appeared as recently as 1988 in the New York Times:

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."
— William J. Miller, I Am a Jelly-Filled Doughnut, The New York Times April 30, 1988[10]

So why bring it up now? Because I just discovered that, in fact, President Kennedy's words were absolutely correct, even if they were delivered with a Boston accent. If he had said, "Ich bin Berliner," as his critics insisted he should have, he would have sounded foolish. Obviously, with the way he mangled the German language, he was most certainly NOT a native of Berlin. According to multiple evaluations of the speech by Germans, the way he said it actually indicated, "I am one with the people of Berlin," which is exactly what he wanted to say. And which is exactly how the Germans received it. None of the ridicule leveled at him ever came from the Germans.

(Ahem.) That was kind of a long aside. 

The lovely Julie of Empty Nest Insider gave me a lovely award. It's expressed  in German:

Since part of the idea behind this award is to pass it on to bloggers with less than 200 followers, my warped sense of humor made me quip, "Ah, must mean ... loser!" 

I actually knew that wasn't the case, but because it was in German, one thing led to another, until I ended up inadvertently discovering JFK wasn't a loser in the delivery of that speech. Funny, I've seen and heard many references to that speech over the years, but today was the first time I found contrasting information about it. And only because I went looking for it. Funny, huh? 

Anyway, back to the award. Liebster is actually a German term of endearment. Literally, it means beloved person. Nice. (See, not a loser at all!) Most of us follow a number of blogs, and in general, we follow them because we LIKE them. And the idea of this award is to shine some light on those blogsters we happen to like who, like me, may be fairly new or languishing in a darkened corner of the blogosphere with less than 200 followers. So, I would like to thank Julie for thinking of me. I really do appreciate it. (And since the light is on me, I'll be on my best behavior.)

Now I'm supposed to shine the spotlight on three other bloggers by sending the award their way. (Then each of THEM picks three ...) Tell ya what, as I looked down the list of blogs I follow, I could happily pass the award on to every one of you, except a lot of you aren't losers  already have way more than 200 followers, some of you (you tricksters, you) don't indicate how many follower you DO have, and some of you have already received this award. In fact, the three people I've selected may have already received it. Tough. I consider all three of them liebsters. 

Connie of A Merry Heart
Skippy of I Make Soap

I love all three of their blogs, and I'm betting you would, too. Go ahead. Check 'em out.

Along with the Liebster Award came the following:

As this award shows, it was created by RJR Daydreamer and the idea is to recognize how much we bloggers appreciate all the people who take the time to read our posts and make comments on them. Heck, we even appreciate the lurkers ... those who read every post, but don't officially follow or comment. This award is for all of you. Because, by golly . . .  ich leib dich . . . ALL of you!  So, y'all are welcome to grab the followers' award for your own blog, and then . . .  pass on the lieb.  

By the way, in case you were wondering, in German, verlierer means loser. 

One last thing before I scoot. I'd like to share an amazing picture with you. This is a picture of the Israeli west Bank barrier. 

Pretty cool, huh? Until next time, liebsters, take care of yourselves. And each other.

As always, no trees were killed in the sending of this message. However, a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.


  1. I love the jelly donut speech. I knew it was technically correct, and that Kennedy took a lot of ribbing for it anyway, but that just made me like it even more. In an affectionate way.

    Congrats on your Liebster Blog award! :)

  2. You always fascinate and educate the heck out of me. This was a great post [and not just because you gave me an award] I love the trivia, always. Fridays are my favorites. :)

    Thank you so much for thinking of me - and it makes me so happy to be your friend.

  3. Forget the speech and pass the donuts.

  4. That is one good looking doughnut.

    I have heard that line many times, but not the story behind it. It is a good day when you learn something new.

  5. I have never ever heard that story, but reading it, I couldn't understand why all the fuss. The phrase reads as he intended. Stupid journalists.

    Thanks again for another fascinating post.

  6. I'm reading this before breakfast. My greens soaking in the sink and now I want a jelly doughnut instead of my health drink. Teaser. I can taste it now!
    I like that story about JFK. I never heard it before. You educate in such a delightful way.
    Have a yammy day, my dear.

  7. You are a quality lady and educator, Susan. And I now have a hankering for a jelly doughnut.

  8. I love how you tied in the Liebster Award with JFK's speech! Very clever and informative! You are a true Liebster in every sense of the word! I yam proud to know you! Julie

  9. Hi, Y'all. Thank you so much for your comments. You guys are great. (I wonder if the jelly doughnut market went up today.)

  10. It just goes to show that no matter who the president is, half the world will try to make him(her) look like a fool! Oh, politics.

    And I shall refrain from making the political commentary that some presidents and presidential candidates make this job a lot easier, without requiring an in-depth analysis of a foreign language. (Oops, I guess I didn't refrain.) :D

  11. Hi, Dianne. I think you refrained quite admirably.

  12. shucks
    missed out again!!!

    ps look at the 2nd quote

  13. Susan, Thank you. I thought I was going crazy. I knew I had read about a 95 (93) yr old woman who did something athletic and she looked wonderful. Had nicely formed muscles in her legs and didn't look at all like any gal in her 90's. For the life of me, I couldn't recall where I read it. Thank you before I ended up in the looney bin.

    That article did impress me. people think I do well to walk 5 miles every day but I wanted to increase it by the end of summer. Hasn't happened yet.
    I can't get over how muscular that woman looked. There was a nun in her 80's who did the Iron Man a few years ago. That impressed me too.
    Thanks for posting it and reminding me where I saw it. :)

  14. Hi-ya, John. If you mean you "missed out" on getting the award, that's because you already have almost 300 followers, so you aren't a big enough "loser" to get the award, you silly man. And mea culpa for missing that Churchill quote on your blog.

    Hi, Manzi. Glad to help. (Makes me crazy to have something niggling at the back of my mind that I can't quite nail down.)