Disclaimer~ Whole lot's mine
Notes~ God it's been AGES since I've done a minific. Anyway. This came to mind on the way to work this morning. Language is awesome :D
Nolryn flicked through the pages of his Kazinian notes as he awaited his language teacher. He knew the vast majority of what he was reading, and was even able to scoff at a number of the mistakes he used to make so constantly, but it always helped him to get into the Kazinian mindset before he began speaking it for an extended period of time. He read through them before he met with Kazinian ministers, too. Think in Kazinian, Musha had always told him, don’t translate it in your head.
The door to his bedroom clicked open. ‘Sala-nin,’ he said automatically. His lessons never had a word in Raykinian anymore.
‘Sala-nin,’ the Kazinian answered.
Nolryn looked up. There was a cheeky edge to her greeting, only emphasised by her impish grin. ‘What?’ he asked cautiously.
‘I’ve got a very special lesson for you today,’ she said, sitting down opposite him. She set her leather-bound folder on her knees, worn at the corners from a decade and a half of tutoring the prince, and produced three sheets of parchment. She passed them triumphantly to the prince.
Nolryn cocked an eyebrow at her as he accepted them, then glanced down at the heading, in Musha’s small, neat script. His shoulders slouched.
‘Vocab?’ he protested, dropping the sheets between his knees. ‘I haven’t had a vocab sheet in years.’ He lifted them again, an unimpressed curl to his top lip as he scanned over the pages. ‘What’s this one, another three dozen words for rain?’
‘Just one in there for rain,’ Musha answered, grinning more broadly now.
‘Seriously? I thought you said I’d learned them all.’ He frowned at the words now he was reading them, mouthing a few to test his tongue over them. ‘There seems to be a common theme of excrement and sex,’ he noted. ‘What is this?’
Musha waved a hand at him. ‘Try them out,’ she said. ‘See if you notice any other common themes.’
Nolryn rested his elbows on his knees as he read through the list. ‘Aeia,’ he muttered. ‘Shek, fet, rahk, sik, lot more spitting and hacking your lungs up than normal here… sot, kak—’
‘Fun, aren’t they?’ the Kazinian interrupted.
‘I like kak,’ Nolryn agreed. ‘What’s that? “Excrement (of a rat).” Well, that’s needlessly specific.’
‘It’s profanity,’ Musha told him. ‘Curse words.’
Nolryn’s eyebrows shot up as he stared at her for a moment, then he laughed and shook his head. ‘Seriously?’ he said again, and flicked through the pages with new eyes. ‘Aeia…’
Musha grinned again. ‘That’s the best you’ve got?’
Nolryn scanned the vocab list and found ‘a word to express awe.’ ‘Kreh,’ he said with the same reverence.
‘Better,’ his teacher told him. ‘I think you’re responsible enough now to know these. Of course, you’d know never to use them in an official capacity, but with the general public, too.’
Nolryn tore his eyes from the vocab list. The words were the easy part, just memorising the meanings, but learning when to use them was when the words became language.
‘Raykinian is so tame compared to Kazinian,’ Musha continued, scrunching up her nose in disgust. ‘It’s pitiful, really. Taking your goddesses’ names in vain is the best you can do? Really?’ She shook her head. ‘Kazinian is much harsher, and as such, you have to be more careful when you use it. Half of those words, I have never used, and if you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel the need, Highness, then Lin and Nizaaz save us both, because that meeting will only end in bloodshed. Here, get your charcoal.’
Nolryn took his charcoal stick from the desk beside him and rested the sheets on the back of his notebook.
Musha pulled her chair next to him and took his charcoal, then began drawing lines at intervals between the words, separating them into groups. ‘None of these you would ever say in polite company, or to strangers, if you can help it.’ She shrugged. ‘Unless they’re being irritating fets, of course.’
Nolryn gave a crooked grin. Fet was one of a dozen words for the penis.
‘These ones you could comfortably say at the pub, extended to these ones just around your mates, these ones just never in public, these ones… people will possibly say them to you, but you’re the crown prince and even among your mates that’s not a good look. The rest, don’t touch with a barge pole.’
‘Kazinians are inventive,’ Nolryn said, glad to see Musha had left the swear word for ‘rain’ in the relatively acceptable top end of the group.
‘Learn those,’ Musha told him, ‘But for the time being just use them in lessons. Same as every other piece of new material, I’ll grade you and tell you when you’re using them at the wrong time. There won’t be any speeches or essays; swearing is all about context and knowing how not to go too far. That will be the biggest thing for you to wrap your head around, coming from a language that doesn’t seem to go as far as you’d like.’
Nolryn smirked and shook his head. ‘You haven’t met the politicians I have,’ he told her.
His language teacher slapped an arm over his shoulders. ‘No, but I’ve been teaching you for the last sixteen years, rotten sot.’
Nolryn laughed. ‘You’ve been waiting all those sixteen years to tell me that and have me understand it, haven’t you?’
‘It gives me more glee than you can imagine,’ Musha agreed. She slapped him on the shoulder again, then used it to push herself to her feet.
‘Have fun, young Highness. I’ll be back after siesta.’
Nolryn grinned and waved her out of the door, then rested back in his armchair, one ankle on his knee as he began studying his new vocabulary. ‘Best vocab list ever,’ he murmured.