This morning I once again got to enjoy partaking in the DLAB, or Defense Language Aptitude Battery.
For those who are unfamiliar with the test, it is a standardized test that the Army (and all the other services and many government jobs) has you take in order to determine your aptitude for learning a language. It consists of a listening part and a reading/picture association part, a little less than 200 questions, a little under 2 hours or so.
It is also, I point out, my eighth circle of eternal Hell.
I was taking it again because when I took it previously I scored an 88. Back then, such a score was passing, at least enough for me to learn anything they can teach a seventh grader: French, Spanish, Italian, etc. They since changed the standards to a 95, meaning that my score was now no longer adequate and in order for me to file some of the job applications I had to take this hellish beast again.
The test begins simply enough. The audio tape clicks on and tells you that it will give you four words in a gibberish language. All you have to do is determine which of the four words has a stress pattern different from the others. They give you something easy, a three syllable word that they say slowly and annunciate clearly, as your “practice” question. You confidently answer, smug in your aptitude, and the test officially begins.
The first question is four words of six syllables, mumbled together, sounding like Persian Farsi on too much opium, and my head explodes. I piece together enough of the brain matter to complete the section.
The next section begins my descent further into the firey pits of Hades as they stop their syllabic repetition and move onto linguistic rules. Now I am told that I will learn a gibberish language based on English. All nouns precede adjectives. All nouns and verbs end in the same vowel sound. Practice: Blue dog becomes dog-o blue-o. Easy enough.
Uh, Ah, and Eh start sounding very close when put at the end of persistent patience. This is then complicated by the next two sections, which tell me things like the object of a sentence will always end in ee and all verbs start with ya and subjects have an ah sound in the middle and don’t forget that possession (a condition which I am convinced the test coordinators were in when creating the test) indicated a precedence of order and vowel endings of their own. The last listening section took all the rules and combined them within sentences. It was around this point that I started finding pretty designs in the little circles on my paper and wondering just when it would be over so I could go run into traffic.
The final part, during which i could turn off the infernal tape, has four pictures, each with a simple caption in an unrelated gibberish language. Three other pictures are then presented and you must determine the appropriate caption for each picture. Given a warrior man, a warrior woman, and a small baby, I am to now determine the caption for a large tree.
Luckily, the smiley face that resulted from much of this proved to be worth it, as I succeeded in achieving a score which would allow me to take any language I choose in the Army. I now have the pleasure of hiding that score from my first sergeant, who will be more than pleased to attempt to convince me to reenlist for four years so I can learn Arabic.
Right now I am more concerned with the fact that upon greeting my cat this evening I referred to her as “Kitty Cutey” and even she gave me that blank stare that told me I need to take a nap…