“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.*”