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The Cadet: Part 5

“In line with the reforms instituted during the late war,” intoned Commander Adler as he addressed the new intake of cadets, “it is the Navy’s ambition that every officer, non-commissioned officer and rating will be trilingual in Ainglic, Jerdu and Chaatka. Your instruction will take place in Ainglic as it is the official, administrative language of the Alliance but is our intent that you will graduate able to converse and conduct business in all three of the Alliance’s official languages. To this end, you will undertake written and verbal assessments of your skills and abilities in all three languages so you can be assigned to appropriate language classes.”

What that meant, it turned out, was three one hour long, written tests and three conversations, one with the senior instructor for each of the languages.

After the written exams, Parthi’s roommate, Maide, asked her, “So, how do you think you went?”

“Better than I expected in Chaatka, I could actually answer a couple of the simple questions. Jerdu wasn’t bad at all, but I was disappointed with the Ainglic paper,” Parthi shrugged her shoulders, “I ran out of time to answer the last few questions properly.”

Maide was surprised. “But you’re a native Ainglic speaker, aren’t you?”

“Well, yes,” agreed Parthi, “but I did all my secondary schooling in Jerdu.”


The next day the language interviews began.

To the Ainglic instructor Parthi explained that her education in Ainglic, except as a second language, had ended in late primary school.

To the Chaatka instructor she freely admitted that she had no grasp of the written language whatsoever. *Yet you can hold a conversation and conduct day to day business?* He raised an eyebrow at her.

*Not with elegance and grace, but yes, elder.*

To the Jerdu instructor she said, “*Good afternoon, hasedni. What would you like to talk about?*

As his hand flicked his stylus down the screen of his note pad, the instructor asked, “*How do you think your Jerdu could be improved, inci?*

*My vocabulary and accent could do with refinement, hasedni,*” Parthi offered with a self-deprecating smile.

Cadet-Lieutenant Connell glared at the first year cadet who’d wandered randomly into his Jerdu class. It had taken them three years of language work to reach this level and the first year cadet from his own wardroom had no place here. *You should get to your class before you are late, eti,*” he told her in Jerdu. A couple of his classmates sniggered but he doubted she would understand why even if she understood what he’d said to her.

*This is my class, harumi,*” Cadet Gens replied calmly in Jerdu that was at least as good as his own, “*and if you ever call me ‘eti’ again, I will hit you, senior rank or not.*

*So, why are you in this class, inci?* That was from another wardroom’s Cadet-Lieutenant.

*Because I sound like a space chimp and that needs to change, harumi.* Parthi scanned the room for an unoccupied seat.

*What’s a space chimp?*

The female cadet who’d asked that had addressed the room at large but the reply came from the instructor as he came through the door, “*Space chimp is a derogatory term for someone who earns their living plying the space lanes, inci. It is a term, like ‘eti’, that you would be wise to avoid. Gens inci, take the empty seat in the third row and we will begin to look at chromatic mood annunciators.*

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These little segments are all sorts of 'moar pls'.

Normally I'd be irritated by fake languages, or mixing languages into English, but so far I have found the context and the way it's written to be just fine.

Also you have her addressing the Jerdu instructor as hasedi and hasedni. One of those is probably a typo.

Edited at 2013-10-07 07:36 pm (UTC)

I changed my mind about what it should be after I'd written it and obviously forgot I'd used it twice. I will fix.

I'm glad you like this and I'm glad I've managed not to be irritating.

I like this too, and the way you're doing it. (I'm a lifelong total language geek and careerlong language professional.)

I'd like to offer one suggestion for format. I find the "*combination of quotes and asterisks*" a bit confusing, maybe because it's two characters at each end rather than one ("ASCII quotes", “curly quotes”, «guillemets», „low-high quotes‟, and their singlet counterparts).

In Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold uses ~tildes~ instead of quotation marks for dialogue in Roknari. You might do the same, or use some other character(s) or one of the other standard sets of quotation symbols I've listed.

Respectfully submitted,
Dr. Whom: Consulting Linguist, Grammarian, Orthoëpist, and Philological Busybody

PS: For the Unicode code points of these characters, see http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U2000.pdf and http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U0080.pdf.

η: PPS: Are you basing the Jerdu terms of address on any extant language? (Ah, GIYF. "Inci" looked somehow familiar, and in fact "İnci" is a Turkish name and "Harumi" a Japanese one.)

Edited at 2013-10-13 06:19 am (UTC)

Thank you for the suggestions. I will keep them in mind for next time I have to include conversation in one of the other languages.

Did having the two different languages in different fonts help?

I'm not basing the Jerdu terms of address on anything extant. Harumi is the first one I came up with and the sounds must have stuck with me from somewhere else. :) Inci was picked because it ended in 'i' and was shorter than harumi.

Different fonts would help. I'm seeing the whole post in a uniform font, no variation, whether I view it in my style or yours. I'm using Firefox 24.0 under Mac OS 10.7.5 (Lion); my default proportional font is Times, but I've also set it to "allow pages to choose their own fonts".

And I'm looking forward to chromatic mood annunciators. :-)

Edited at 2013-10-13 05:44 pm (UTC)

I write in Word and use Explorer and Chrome as browsers in Windows machines. I used different fonts when I wrote the piece and I can see them in the post in both browsers.

Perhaps the fonts I used aren't supported by the relevant bits of your system?

What fonts?

Testing in Safari & Chrome as well. Same appearance.

Edited at 2013-10-14 03:14 am (UTC)

The fonts are Bodoni MT and Garamond.

Edited at 2013-10-14 05:46 am (UTC)

Oh yes, chromatic mood annunciators are a matter of idiom, and not, strictly speaking, grammar.

“*This is my class, harumi,*” Cadet Gens replied calmly in Jerdu that was at least as good as his own, “*and if you ever call me ‘eti’ again, I will hit you, senior rank or not.*”

Very good line! and *very* good keeping her cool.

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