By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to broaden your global perspective. Reading time: 2:45
In England, you overhear this conversation between a young couple leaving a restaurant. The guy says to the girl: “I will bring a torch with me and knock you up in the morning.” In plain English, he was saying that he would bring a flashlight over to her house when he called on her in the morning and awakened her either personally or by phone.
Language barriers can be embarrassing.
Even the President of the United States once told a crowd of Germans in what was then West Berlin that he was a pastry. John F. Kennedy was trying to say that he was a Berliner (“Ich bin Berliner.”) Instead he said “Ich bin EIN Berliner. The next day editorial cartoonists had a lot of fun depicting talking donuts although scholars have noted that technically
It is instructive that even though Kennedy’s rendition was correct, the media still played up the perceived gaffe. The media at the time preferred not to focus on the accuracy of the President’s observation that he was a Berliner even though he literally did not reside in or come from Berlin. But no matter.