â€œSo what about â€˜light blueâ€™ or â€˜dark blueâ€™? Can I just say â€˜tinoh ekilitâ€™ and â€˜tinoh saikilitâ€™? Or do you have to use a separate word?â€
â€œNo, no, youâ€™re missing the point. They donâ€™t have light blue or dark blue. Itâ€™s either blue or it isnâ€™t.â€
â€œBut they have words for light and dark, so whatâ€™s the difference? Donâ€™t tell me their eyes canâ€™t distinguish different shades.â€
Rennie sighed and rubbed his temple. His newest student was proving to be far more difficult than heâ€™d bargained for. The government said the kid was quick, and sure, he seemed to be some sort of linguistic geniusâ€”heâ€™d picked up in a matter of hours the amount of vocabulary that Rennie had had to study for a year. But what good will it do him if he canâ€™t put himself in their mindset? â€œItâ€™s not their eyes,â€ he told Greg for what seemed like the thousandth time. â€œItâ€™s their brains. Like I said, a digital species. Blue or not-blue. Their eyes can tell the difference, but culturally, they just donâ€™t care.â€
â€œAnd nobody on Keraknos has ever challenged this?â€ Greg wasnâ€™t buying it, and Rennie could tell. Genius he may be, but heâ€™ll never be a great translator with an attitude like that. As if to confirm Rennieâ€™s fears, Greg crossed his arms arrogantly over his chest. â€œI canâ€™t believe that. Someone must have gone against the accepted order sometime, somewhere.â€
â€œLook, this isnâ€™t about government control or some coup dâ€™etat.â€ Now Rennie was getting a little annoyed. â€œItâ€™s a fundamental way of thinking. Their brains are just wired that way. You think a digital clock thinks about going against the â€˜established orderâ€™ and turning analog one day? Of course not. Itâ€™s a basic difference between our species, and if you canâ€™t handle that, you shouldnâ€™t be trying for the Ambassador job.â€
Greg scowled, and Rennie could tell heâ€™d hit a nerve. The jab seemed to keep Greg in check, and he nodded, visibly swallowing his pride. â€œSorry, sir,â€ he said with unusual and obviously reluctant politeness. â€œCan we go over the conjugations again?â€
â€œIf you want,â€ Rennie agreed magnanimously. â€œBut I recommend you get another tutor if youâ€™re not able to pick up the cultural stuff from me.â€ He watched Greg carefully for a reaction.
â€œNo, sir.â€ Gregâ€™s eyes were downcast, though they narrowed seriously when he spoke. â€œYouâ€™re the best, and everyone knows it. I really want this job. Iâ€™ll work on it. Itâ€™s justâ€¦â€ The boy genius scowled again, as if the next admission caused him physical pain. â€œItâ€™s hard for me to understand.â€
Rennie laughed out loud. The sound startled Greg, whose eyes flew up to his teacherâ€™s face, flashing with anger and resentment at a perceived insult. Rennie didnâ€™t care. That one sentence had convinced him; the kid really could learn, if he put his mind to it. â€œDonâ€™t sweat it,â€ he told Greg, clapping the boy on the shoulder. â€œYouâ€™re only human.â€
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