It was a rare occasion that led Professor Aaron McKindy to hold an all-years lesson, particularly one that was mandatory for his seventh-year students who all did independent studies on the topic of their choice, but today was one of those days. It was a day he was very excited for, too. Very few of his students knew about the work he did inventing charms - he had a couple of patents and more than a handful of regularly cited academic papers - and Aaron wasn’t planning on telling them, but he was planning on having an especially exciting lesson on linguistics, language, and spellwork. It would be a lesson with a lot of freedom for students to do as they pleased, as well.
“Are you sure you want to come?” he asked Circe, who had pawed at the door to his office after he shut it on his way out, and who had meowed pathetically until he opened the door again. Sometimes the cat wanted to go to class with him, but she usually had the sense to not try on days when he told her it was a bad idea. Instead, she just looked at him and twitched her tail. Aaron shrugged, stuck his hands in his jeans pockets, and headed towards the Practical Lab. Circe padded along beside him, taking a few casual pounces at the shoelaces of his red Converse.
Once at the Practical Lab, Aaron didn’t have much setting up to do so instead he leafed through his notes, which were rather extensive and were more there for his own entertainment than content he was going to give the class. He could have easily taught an entire course at a university about this topic but there was no need to overwhelm his students.
They trickled in as they often did, and Aaron kept the door open a few minutes after class had technically started for the stragglers. Once more or less everyone who could be counted on not to skip class was there, he began.
“Today we’re going to be working on the fundamentals of spellwork,” small groan, “based in languages.” No groaning. Some confusion, but no groaning. Aaron went on.
“As some of you may have noticed, many of our spells are based in Latin or Greek, although there are some spells that we have used based in different languages.” Aaron neglected to mention that some of those were of his own design. “In short, this is because the older the language, the stronger the spell, typically. There isn’t a consensus as to why that is the case, but it does seem to be.”
“For example, there are a few very strong spells that have their basis in Sumerien but there are a lot of difficulties when discovering or creating those spells, because Sumerien is what’s called a ‘language isolate’ which means that we don’t know of any languages that it’s related to. Sumerien has been dead for a very long time, and although there have been some ghosts discovered in ancient ruins, they have been...unhelpful.” Which after a few millennia was unsurprising, really.
“But spellwork is largely about intention. The word and wand motion keyed to the spell just make the spell easier to perform, and the effect more amplified. Some of you have already begun to learn nonverbal magic, and there are some common pieces of wandless magic that we don’t really think about, such as Apparating.”
“Let’s take, ah, a basic example.” Aaron looked somewhat uncomfortable. He was a teacher and Head of House, which meant (at any school, but at RMI in particular) that it was vital for him to keep an ear to the ground when it came to what the students were up to. Fortunately, there were a fair amount of students who seemed to think that teachers were entirely deaf - although that was neither here nor there at the moment. What that meant for this lesson, though, was that Aaron was at least passingly familiar with some slang terms that the younger students (mostly Muggleborns) used. He pulled his wand out from the back pocket of his jeans, and pointed at an eraser on the table beside him. “Yeet” he ordered it, sternly.
The eraser promptly yeeted itself across the room, albeit not quite hard enough to reach the wall.
There was a second eraser next to the first, and Aaron proceeded to Banish it with the spell that the advanced class had begun with at the start of term. This eraser very enthusiastically flew across the room, crashing into the back wall and barely missing a student who looked suspiciously like they had been considering a nap.
“So as you can see, the spell that has its basis in Latin has considerably more power than a spell that has its basis in current slang, but they were both technically effective.”
“Today, I want you all to try out spells with a basis other than standard American or British English, or Latin.” Oh, right. Aaron flicked his wand again and everyone’s textbooks got slightly thicker. “I’ve just put an addendum into the back of everyone’s books with some basics about a handful of common languages, if you want to do some quick research before you try anything, or you can use your own language knowledge, or a partner’s. Oh, I do want you working with partners today. If you are multilingual, try to work with someone who is not.” There were quite a few RMI students who spoke languages other than English - the bonuses of an international school. “Please take notes as you go along, and I’ll expect an essay about your findings next Tuesday at the start of your class.” There was something of a groan, and Aaron raised his eyebrows mildly. He didn’t actually usually assign that much homework, and this was important. “All right, go ahead and pair up! Enjoy yourselves today!”
“Oh uh, and please avoid Sumerien,” Aaron called as an afterthought over the rumble of the students pairing up and the class beginning. He didn’t think that any of his students knew enough Sumerien to blow anything up but the professor had learned over years of teaching to never trust young witches and wizards not to cause havoc when the chance arose.