The land where zblnknutie is not a misprint

As war in Georgia intensified, the United Nations last night called for an urgent redistribution of vowels across the world.

"Sources on the ground inform us that the Russian incursion is actually a thinly disguised vowel-grab," a spokesman said. "The tragedy is that Georgia is already drastically short of vowels. The shelling started in vowel-short Tskhinvali, then the action moved to Tbilisi, and fears are growing for the city of Mtskheta, which had only two vowels to start with."

However, Russian commander Grigr Mzdzhy denied having any interest in their neighbours’ vowels. "Why would we? Georgians haff hardly any vowels," Cmdr Mzdzhy said. "Their language is full of words such as gvbrdyvnis. Even we cannot say them."

The UN Security Council is meeting tomorrow to discuss whether to replicate the famous air-drop of vowels over Bosnia in 1996, sponsored by The Onion magazine.

"Many people believe there are not enough vowels for everyone on the planet, but it is simply not true," a World Health Organization spokesman said. "Some places have an obscenely large number of them, whereas in others, people have to scrape by on less than two vowels a day."

The conflict has highlighted the world’s drastic vowel shortage. The WHO has designated a minimum of two vowels a day as a minimum for health. Anything below that is classified as being "under the poverty line"—henceforth to be known as the pvrty line, to avoid wastage.

Last week, the UN strongly condemned New Zealand, normally a neutral party in conflicts, for frequently using its alternative name Aotearoa.

New Zealand diplomats pleaded that the name was the traditional Maori word for the land, but the UN’s Croation ambassador dismissed the excuse out of hand. "In Croatian, the word ‘supplying’ is opskrbljivanje," he said. "Most business people cannot say it, so economic activity has been made impossible."

A Slovak diplomat added: "Slavic languages are full of words such as stvrt and zmrzlina and zblnknutie. Can you imagine the hardship suffered by our children, having to grow up with words that cannot be uttered, even mentally, without complex lip-maneuvers that take years to master?"

New super-strict United Nations rules on excessive vowel use came into force at the weekend, and member nations are anxious to be seen to be enforcing them.

In connection with this, three arrests were made last night. A literary scholar at the Sorbonne in Paris was charged with excessive use of "Rousseauian", an Australian feature-writer was detained for writing "pharmacopoeia", and a warning was given to a London railway station manager for using "queueing" four times in an hour.

But there have also been bright spots, with nations donating vowel-rich words to the beleaguered Georgians. The Italians sent over their word aiuola, and the Romanians dispatched their term for sheep, made entirely of vowels: oaie.

The Singaporeans have sent over a surname, Ooi, and the Chinese have offered mooi, meaning "little sister".

Aid workers hope these will provide some relief until next week, when freight transport from Finland is due to arrive bearing a large shipment of the archaic 12-vowel Finnish word for dating, riiuuyöaieoionta.

The Georgian Minister for Vowels, Radze Vzdzhe, said: "When I heard about the Finnish offer, I had tears in my eyes. Or as we say in Georgia, tyrzh in my yrzh."

Vowels and consonants are both available at our columnist’s website: www.vittachi.com

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