Yes, Twitter taught me how to say “I am a jelly donut” … in Swahili

Twitter is really useful.

For, you know, those times you’re wondering how to say “I am a jelly donut” in Swahili.

I Tweeted this to commemorate the beginning of a three-month online Swahili course, which I decided to start while I wait to book a ticket to Kenya. Little did I know that just moments later, the answer would appear: “Mimi ni donasi la jelly.” Or at least it was the answer Twitter gave me. I had no idea if it was correct or not.

I like history, and I like politics – “I am a jelly donut” seemed to be an obvious goal.

If that still seems strange, here’s a brief political history note: In 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited West Berlin, Germany. According to urban legend, in an effort to show solidarity, he reportedly said, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” which apparently in Berlin literally meant, “I am a jelly donut.” That verbal stumble reportedly isn’t true – but it has stuck around for a long time. Personally, I would have loved to hear New England-to-the-core Kennedy tackle it: “Ich bin ein Berlinuh.”

So, clearly, this is a profound statement for anyone’s multilingual arsenal. Clearly.

I’m more than a month into my Swahili lessons. I’ve learned the numbers one through six – moja, mbili, tatu, nne, tanto, sita. I’ve learned vocabulary like dog (“mbwa”) and bicycle (“baiskeli”). I’ve learned rudimentary sentences like “The woman drives the car” (“Mwanamke anaendesha gari”).

And I can say with certainty that “Mimi ni donasi la jelly” is just what I needed to kick off my Swahili training.

Now, I just need to figure out what my next goal is in Swahili. I mean, what could top “I am a jelly donut”?

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