Actions

Work Header

Translation Error

Work Text:

The classroom was made of chaos, in that particular way one expected of schoolboys on the first day of class when they hadn't yet learned to respect their professor. Ms. North tapped irritably at the screen on the lectern. The orientation session had been both disconcerting and brisk, and while she appreciated efficiency as much as the next, ah, woman, she really felt that once travel through time was involved, the administration could have arranged for more prep time.

At least no one was throwing anything bladed in this classroom. She had heard screams from the Coptic room while on her way to class, and had chosen to keep right on walking.

The lectern's menus finally offered her a wide array of buttons under the Class -> In Session -> Students -> Control Methods sub-sub-submenu. (She was already composing a memo in her head to administration re: user interface.) She hammered the button labeled Restraints.

The classroom didn't become any quieter as some eighteen youths were snapped into place at their desks, but at least it became somewhat more still, and she finally had the attention of her students.

Ms. North waited for the room to quiet. And then she smiled in a properly lady-like manner at the class. "Welcome, one and all, to the very first session of Greek Prose Composition. In this class you will all be learning how to translate between your native idiom and that of this time and place, and so develop skills of compositional rhetoric that will serve you well in your adult years."

"About that," said a student.

"The administration," Ms. North continued, "would like me to read this statement to the class before we begin." She cleared her throat, to cover the pause while she found the infernal menu sequence necessary to pull it up on the screen. "You may read along at your desks. 'The Institute of Cross-Time Education welcomes you! You have been personally selected to take part in this exciting opportunity for cross-time exchanges of cultural knowledge and entertainment. The ICTE would like to note that the process of being copied through time may have caused minor changes in age, knowledge, gender, sex, personality, reality, appearance, or other such details. The Institute bears no legal responsibility for such changes. If you find yourself having difficulty with your status change in any of the above, please see a counselor in room 47-G during the time listed on your schedule.' And with that taken care of--"

"Reality?" asked the same student.

Ms. North checked her seating guide. "That detail, Socrates, comes from the fact that certain students might be based on fictional personages, or amalgamations of multiple historical personages, rather than being...strictly historical."

Everyone in the room turned to look at Homer. He made a rude gesture back at them.

"It seems likely to me that, being a real person, and having been alive many millennia in the past, I'm already dead," said a student, waving a hand in the air. "May I be excused?"

"No," said Ms. North, "but that was a lovely example of how aspects change the meaning of participial clauses, Lysias. Now, we'll begin with a few simple sentences to demonstrate the use of the copula in this language, and how--"

"Ms. North," said a young woman, giving up on trying to escape the desk restraints, "my syllabus says that there are supposed to be two instructors for this class. It can hardly be said to be our responsibility to learn if the error in professorial number was caused by the professors themselves, when we've all arrived on time, one just like another, as is traditional."

"Sophist," muttered someone at the back of the classroom.

"As Mr. Hillard is--I heard that, Isocrates--as Mr. Hillard is currently dealing with enhanced orientation due to the minor errors caused in the time travel process, this class will have only the one instructor today. We all wish for his rapid recovery and that he'll rejoin us within the week, with appropriate language faculties restored. Thank you for your concern, Antiphon."

"At least he still knows who he is," said a student in the third row. "My ID just says 'Old Oligarch', which would make more sense if I weren't apparently a lad all over again. And has no one heard of satire? The crudity of those arguments was deliberate! Deliberate! I spent so much time working out the exact way to repeat myself so that it would be obvious by the last third--"

Ms. North finally located the Mute button, and cut off that student. She made a note about O.O. for future disciplinary purposes in the appropriate field on the lectern. "Now, I would like you all to examine the two sentences appearing at your desks. 'The citizens are good' and 'The good citizens are on the space station' will, as you see, demonstrate the standard method of pairing nominatives with either a simple adjective or a prepositional phrase. By tomorrow, I expect you all to be ready to write out similar sentences from the vocabulary lists provided in proper format when called on." She stifled a sigh, and pointed to the young man who had at least bothered to raise a hand and wait to be called on. "Yes, Demosthenes?"

He stood up. That suggested there was a time limit on the Restraints option for the desks; she would have to check the options menu for that when she had a free moment. "I would like to take this opportunity, as I think any one of us from the class might under these present circumstances, having acquired a thought appropriate to the situation, to address you all regarding the educational plans laid before us, so that we might best examine our course of action."

Isocrates coughed into his hand. "Pre-written."

"You may certainly submit feedback to the administration," Ms. North said, hammering the Mute button for that seat, "in your own time after class, and I heard that, Isocrates." She muted him as well, and wondered wearily if she would be able to call on anyone at all by the time she had gone over the first lesson. "Would anyone like to offer a translation of the first sentence, orally, to start us off?"

Lysias stood up. "If I were the sort of youth to have written that sort of sentence, I think you would all agree that I would most likely--"

She hit another mute. "Thank you, Lysias, that will be all! Next?" There was a paucity of hands offered to her. "...how about you, Herodotus."

The girl adjusted her glasses, and cleared her throat a few times. "Me?"

"You never had difficulty with public speaking before," Ms. North said firmly. "Please. Give us a translation of the first sentence."

"I, Herodotus--" The girl stopped, and frowned. "I, Herodot...e? Of...the Institute? Believe that in order to discuss the goodness of the citizens, we should begin with how they became citizens, and the way in which their city was established--"

"Thank you, that will be all." Ms. North stared at her class list. In the depths of her heart, she did not want to call on Thucydides. She might never reach the end of the sentence. "Would anyone else like to try it? Polybius?"

"The problem," Polybius said, "with the approach of these other historians is that they have approached the entire discipline with the wrong sort of paradigm--"

"History class is next period," Ms. North said. "I'm certain Professor Gibbon would be very interested in your theories. Sappho! Would you like to offer a translation?"

Sappho didn't answer. She appeared to be busy passing notes with Hypatia in the back row. It seemed best to just...leave that be.

"In that case," Ms. North said, making a note to see Medical after class about the teeth-grinding problem she was starting to develop, "I'll go through the sentence myself just as soon as--"

The door opened, and a young man edged in. "Excuse me," he said,

Once taken, sudden, from Roman shores and ports
To Institute of Trammeled Time and Space,
As my schedule lacks a fix'd abode for class,
I'll wander, seeking clarity--

"Latin Prose Composition is across the hall," Ms. North said. She consulted the lectern for a name. "...I believe they're expecting you, Vergil."

"Latin," muttered a student in the back of the class. "For people who can't cut it in Greek."

"I heard that, Plutarch."