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  • I’d like to still share with you one little, captivating R story, after yesterday’s RRR RRR RRR. I heard this one in the army. In Finland there’s universal male conscription. I was a pioneer, rehearsed to build bridges and blow them up, set up minefields and nasty booby traps, run and carry tank mines under caterpillar tracks of moving tanks and hope not to get crushed while doing it.

    But that’s not the story with RRRs. This one is: When my both Grandpas were young men, Finland was in war with Soviet Union for five years. Most of fights took place in forests. And both sides dug kilometres of zigzagging trenches into ground as their defense lines.

    If you reached enemy’s trench during attack it was not so easy to advance along it because of dozens of zigzag curves. You never knew if enemy’s soldier waited on the other side of curve with his machine gun ready.

    So Finnish soldiers started to use a password. A password with sound R in it. The most popular was a curse word “perkele”, and another popular was “Karjala”, Carelia in Finnish, Kareliya in Russian, area which disputed ownership was one of the main causes of the war.

    When attacking Finnish soldier reached a curve in an enemy trench he shouted loudly: peRRRkele, with very buzzing and trembling RRR sound. If he heard no answer, he threw a hand grenade overhead to the other side of curve. If there was another Finnish soldier already behind a curve he yelled quickly back “peRRRkele”. So first soldier knew not to throw his hand grenade.

    Russian soldiers learned swiftly this tactic but they couldn’t imitate RRR sound and shouted back “peLLLkele” with smooth LLLs. And then a grenade flew.

    As I told in yesterday's seed story of this sprout, I couldn’t pronounce R sound when I was younger. In fact there are lots of men and women in Finland who can’t say it right even as adults.

    So I have sometimes pondered how many trench attacking Finnish soldiers exploded by grenades of their fellow-countrymen when they couldn’t answer to password call with trembling peRRRkele but yelled “peLLLkele peLLLkele it’s me for Heaven’s sake don’t throw!” --- And boom.

    Many, I’m certain. In the chaos of war.

    I would have been one of them. During invulnerable, immortal days of my early youth. Speech defect would have killed me.
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