I was corrected a few times not to use an indefinite article in phrases like "Ich bin Studentin" and "Ich bin Japanerin," but have just come across the Preußenlied, which was the national anthem of the Kingdom of Prussia and starts with:

Ich bin ein Preuße, kennt ihr meine Farben?

Die Fahne schwebt mir weiß und schwarz voran;

daß für die Freiheit meine Väter starben,

das deuten, merkt es, meine Farben an.

So if I am corrected again, can I say, "Solange Leute 'Ich bin EIN Preuße' singen dürfen, darf ich EINE Japanerin sein"?

UPDATE: There have been questions on this SE about similar phrases, but my question is specifically about this particular song. I'm looking for an explanation of why the indefinite article is used there. Does it introduce a flavor or connotation there? If so, how? How do native speakers perceive the starting phrase of the song?

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    Both forms are correct. – πάντα ῥεῖ Aug 19 '20 at 14:22
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    @DavidVogt : Oh, the top answer to that question sheds some light. So ich bin ein Preuße is like I am Prussian deep in my soul, right? Anyway, my question is specifically about this particular song, and I'd like to understand why the indefinite article is used there. – Mitsuko Aug 19 '20 at 15:09
  • The explained pattern in the duplicate question is the same here. You are not only Preuße, you are ein Preuße - says the song. Anything beyond this pattern is song analysis. Well, there is nothing more than to say you are born and proud Preuße, as a hymn would express. The same with the linked Ingenieur. Analysis finished. – Shegit Brahm Aug 19 '20 at 17:59
  • Seems like I am a doughtnut is relevant here. – RDBury Aug 19 '20 at 23:30
  • "ein Preuße" means: one of a lot other "Preußen". - If you would say "Ich bin DER Preuße", it would mean, you are a specific man from Preußen (all other people are from other counties of Germany) - or: I'm the "Preuße", the one and only, the best of all ... let's finish with a "Bonmot" (bair. pronounce: "eu" = "ei"): It's nice to be a Preiß', but it's higher to be a Bayer. ;-) – TylwythTag-VIE Aug 22 '20 at 9:39

Disregarding the anthem, it depends on what you want to say. The Nullartikel (= no article) is used when e.g. refered to your profession

-Was machst du beruflich?
-Ich bin Studentin
-Ich bin Arzt
-Ich bin Lehrer

The same goes for nationalities

-Woher kommst du?
-Ich bin Deutscher
-Ich bin Japaner
-Ich bin Russe

However, if you want to state, that you are one among many others, you will use the article.

Ich bin ein Student und kann mir gerade so die Miete leisten.

Or if you refer to specific criteria

Er ist ein Krankenpfleger, der mit vollem Herz arbeitet.

  • Is the anthem really intended to emphasize that the singer is one of many Prussians, like an element of a crowd? Is it the intent of using the indefinite article here? – Mitsuko Aug 19 '20 at 14:43
  • Further in the anthem, I see the following lines: Es stürm, es krach, es blitze wild darein: Ich bin ein Preuße, will ein Preuße sein. Should I interpret it like: May it storm, may it thunder, may lightning strike wildly: I am a part of the Prussian crowd and want to remain within in? – Mitsuko Aug 19 '20 at 14:45
  • It is more the meaning „I am one of them“ that is stressed here than „I am one of many“. Saying „Ich bin ein Preusse“ sets some proud in it and makes you want the other person to assign the -said- properties of that group to you. E.g.: Ich bin ein Student - implying „not much money, young, mostly unbound“. Ich bin ein Deutscher - implying overly correct, stiff, depending on pronounciation probably even politically right wing. (I AM German and not politically right, just wanted to give examples with stereotypes) – Torsten Link Aug 19 '20 at 19:26

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