our equivalent of the grammatical joke
buffalo buffalo buffalo and etcetera
is gore gore gore gore
which, to an english speaker,
looks appropriate for a country
best known for its well-televised genocide
i write genocide both because it is true
and to avoid the glib rhyme that
english would produce
in bosnian, gore and rat do not rhyme
though arguably, they are related.
our rat, for example, was the najgore genocide
in european history post-holocaust.
this is what we are known for: gore. war.
there’s also a famous bridge.
if an english speaker heard it
gore gore gore gore
the trilled rs and vocalised es
would render it non-sensical
like so many buffalos buffaloing about
even google translate will not help
up up up it says and asks:
translate from croatian?
up above it says and asks:
translate from serbian?
up up up it says again.
if an english speaker asked about it,
if they asked some person who spoke
one of three languages that are actually just one,
they would find out it means
up there, the hills burn worse
and this too, seems appropriate for a country
best known for guns and landmines
in the hillsides around sarajevo.
at 1,425 days, it was the longest siege
of a capital city in modern history
and is therefore, memorable.
for bosnians too, gore gore gore gore
seems appropriate. it is nešto besmisleno
and bosnians love to laugh & know too well
the meaning of meaningless
Pronunciation and Translation:
Rat raat war
Najgore nigh goh reh worst
Nešto besmisleno neh-shtoh bez-mis-leh-noh something meaningless
Dženana Vucic is a Bosnian-Australian writer, editor and critic. She’s a commissioning and copy editor for The Lifted Brow and former Associate Editor for Arts, Culture and Books at In Review. Dženana has been published in Going Down Swinging, Australian Poetry Journal, Scum, Rabbit, Film Focus, Lip Magazine and Junkee.com.