January 22, 2010:
As thousands of U.S. troops headed to Haiti, to help deal with the recent earthquake, the U.S. Defense Language Institute sent out thousands of items to help deal with the French dialect spoken in Haiti. One item that was rushed out was the Phrase Card, which, as its name implies, is a small, weatherized card containing useful words and phrases troops on the ground will need. But many troops got that information almost instantly, by downloading a text version to their cell phones. U.S. troops are particularly fond of the iPhone (and similar iPod touch), and are more likely to own these items than the general public. In addition to being a cell phone, the iPhone is also a hand held computer (which the Touch is also, being an iPhone without the phone). In addition to thousands of games that can be downloaded from the App Store, there are also many other useful (to military personnel) programs available. There's even a free program for learning Haitian French (commonly called Creole, which is what you call a version of a language that is very different from the original). Text versions of the Defense Language Institute phrase card were quickly emailed to thousands of military iPhone/Touch users, who now had something else to do with their little computer when they had a little down time.