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Clinton Deploys Vowels to Bosnia

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Joined: 27 Apr 2003
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2004 11:43 am    Post subject: Clinton Deploys Vowels to Bosnia Reply with quote

(Well, it's an old one, but still...)

Before an emergency joint session of Congress yesterday, President Clinton announced U.S. plans to deploy over 75,000 vowels to the war-torn region of Bosnia. The deployment, the largest of its kind in American history, will provide the region with the critically needed letters A, E, I, O and U, and is hoped to render countless Bosnian names more pronounceable.

"For six years, we have stood by while names like Ygrjvslhv and Tzlynhr and Glrm have been horribly butchered by millions around the world," Clinton said. "Today, the United States must finally stand up and say, 'Enough.' It is time the people of Bosnia finally had some vowels in their incomprehensible words. The U.S. is proud to lead the crusade in this noble endeavor."

The deployment, dubbed Operation Vowel Storm by the State Department, is set for early next week, with the Adriatic port cities of Sjlbvdnzv and Grzny slated to be the first recipients. Two C-130 transport planes, each carrying over 500 24-count boxes of "E's," will fly from Andrews Air Force base across the Atlantic and airdrop the letters over the cities.

Citizens of Grzny and Sjlbvdnzv eagerly await the arrival of the vowels.

"My God, I do not think we can last another day, Trszg Grzdnjlkn, 44, said. "I have six children and none of them has a name that is understandable to me or anyone else. Mr. Clinton, please send my poor, wretched family just one 'E.' Please."

Said Sjlbvdnzv resident Grg Hmphrs, 67: "With just a few key letters, I could be George Humphries. That is my dream."

If the initial airlift is successful, Clinton said the United States will go ahead with full-scale vowel deployment, with C-130s airdropping thousands more letters over every area of Bosnia. Other nations are expected to pitch in as well, including 10,000 British "A's" and 6,500 Canadian "U's." Japan, rich in A's and O's, was asked to participate in the relief effort, but declined.

"With these valuable letters, the people of war-ravaged Bosnia will be able to make some terrific new words," Clinton said. "It should be very exciting for them, and surely much easier for us to read their maps."

Linguists praise the U.S.'s decision to send the vowels. For decades they have struggled with the hard consonants and difficult pronunciation of most Slavic words.

"Vowels are crucial to the construction of all language," Baylor University linguist Noam Frankel said. "Without them, it would be difficult to utter a single word, much less organize a coherent sentence. Please, don't get me started on the moon-man language they use in those Eastern European countries."

According to Frankel, once the Bosnians have vowels, they will be able to construct such valuable sentences as: "The potatoes are ready"; "I believe it will rain"; and "All my children are dead from the war."

The American airdrop represents the largest deployment of any letter to a foreign country since 1984. During the summer of that year, the U.S. shipped 92,000 consonants to Ethiopia, providing cities like Ouaououa, Eaoiiuae and Aao with vital, life-giving supplies of L's S's and T's. The consonant-relief effort failed, however, when vast quantities of the letters were intercepted and horded by violent, gun-toting warlords.
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Joined: 14 May 2003
Posts: 175
Location: Ottawa

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2004 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't really see why this (tacky) posting deserves to be posted on this forum. It has nothing to do with pronounciation whatsoever. It just pokes fun at the people of Bosnia (and the tradition behins their names).
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Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 16
Location: London

PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2004 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Leeroy,
I enjoyed that, it really made me smile. I shall present it to my Somali students and let you know how it goes down with them. They will probably ask me if they can reserve a special batch of B just for them.
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Joined: 05 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 1:07 am    Post subject: :?' Reply with quote

I'm a bit disappointed to see this post. Anyway, it can't be possible that each person in this world is the same.
Maybe you should try to "deploy" some common sense and knowledge for yourself. I'm sure you never even heard how Bosnian sounds and moreover how many vowels it has, or you would possibly have any idea about this language. Bosnian names don't sound so... It's crazy to even explain these to you... Useless...
So, please, stop spreading such nonsense as this one is. I think that last thing I need after everything that was done in this country is to see such ignorant comments on anything, not even language.
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Joined: 18 May 2003
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Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm. You just resurrected this old dead post from a year ago.
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Joined: 05 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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Joined: 23 Feb 2005
Posts: 48
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Shocked
Did some of you just not get the joke? This article is making fun of Americans, not Bosnians!

My dear friends, here are some thoughts for your enlightened consideration:

1. This is a forum for L2 teachers, linguists, and the like. Chances are the users of this forum already have a profound respect for language and for world cultures. Otherwise they wouldn't be here. They'd be on some bigot forum somewhere.

2. The article is from "The Onion," a satirical publication out of Chicago, which is constructed to look like a legitimate newspaper, but is in fact full of ridiculous stories like this one. Go ahead and visit their website at and you'll see that the staff writers spend plenty of time making light of everyone, most of all their own fellow Americans. It's comedy. The Onion's main gag is that the articles resemble articles in real newspapers, often drawing on current events and headlines. We've been so conditioned by the newspaper format to expect a serious tone that we are caught off guard when we read something ridiculous in that format. Then we laugh.

3. Look closely. Is this article really making fun of Bosnians? Or is it actually making fun of Americans? Think about it. Americans fail to understand a culture different from their own, so they send in the army.

Comedy is one of the most difficult things to translate from one culture to another, so it's perhaps understandable if the humor is lost on some here. The fact that Nera actually tried to explain that the Bosnian language actually has vowels suggests that maybe she just didn't get the joke, in the same way that Americans just don't get British sarcasm. Rest assured, this is not xenophobia, etnocentricity, or any other form of bigotry. We are all language teachers, here, and we are very aware of the fact that the Bosnian language, by virtue of its being a language, has plenty of vowels in it.

Trying to pronounce Eastern European words and names that have been written in the English-language version of the Roman alphabet is a mind-boggling experience for most English speakers. Out of this frustration, the president of the United States sends the army on an ill-conceived mission to clear up the confusion once and for all. Then, the Americans are welcomed as liberators! Do you get it now?

We are so accustomed to the horrors that the daily papers bring us that The Onion is a welcome dose of comic relief. One might say that there's nothing funny about war, and s/he would be right in saying so. A sense of humor, however, is invaluable in remaining psychologically capable of confronting the horrors of this world, and not sinking into the paralysis of despair. Have you ever seen those hand-carved marionettes of Goebbles and Hitler made by Jews in Holocaust Germany? Making light of horror helps us confront horror. So go ahead! Laugh! It is your most powerful weapon against evil.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah I understood that, no worries. I was just kinda disappointed since I got use to hearing things like those mentioned in the joke even before, but not as a joke, which is sad, just a pure ignorance Smile I guess I sounded harsh, sorry for that. Smile I should have make myself more clear since I was talking in general and this just moved me. Anyway, I'm confusing you guys. Wink

Btw, those names you have written are Slavic, but Russian region. For example, Grzny would be Grozny, a city in Chechenia. Never mind Smile Jokes or no jokes, I just find those being irritating sometimes. Living through war is not a fun thing, and i don't know but sometimes we would laugh to things, even tell ourselves that we had "a good time" during it, just to forget it, but jet it hurts to know that some people just don't seem to be value any of it.

By the way, Clinton was a good guy, we liked him Smile we don't make jokes with him, not in context of a war Wink
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Joined: 23 Feb 2005
Posts: 48
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's wishing for lasting peace from here on out.

...and an end to ignorance.
I dare say I'll miss it; ignorance has been good for some laughs. It's kind of like a crazy friend: amusing until things turn ugly.

That's our line of work, though: dispelling ignorance, or facilitating the dispelling of ignorance.

I think it's safe to say that dispelling ignorance is our best chance for lasting peace.

May your home be blessed with peace and prosperity from now on.
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