Jack and Ianto were in the middle of going over the monthly budget reports when the rift alarm went off. The computers showed that something small had come through, so Jack had Tosh send the coordinates to the SUV so he and Ianto could find it and get it contained.
They soon arrived in the area, an alleyway between a pub and a block of flats, and started going through the bins and rubbish on the ground, looking for something out of place. Ianto whistled when he found something promising.
"Jack, come have a look at this!" Ianto pointed at something that looked a bit like a circular handheld computer, with labelled dents in concentric rows around the edge. Jack hurried over and crouched down to have a look at the object.
"I'm pretty sure I know what this is," Jack explained. "It's a computer designed for use by cephalopods."
"Cephalopods—you mean like octopuses?"
"Yeah, they formed their own culture in the late fourth millennium. I've heard they make excellent chemists. Anyway, see how the dents around the edge are shaped? They're designed so the user can wrap an arm around it and line up its suckers with the buttons. This one looks like it might be for playing games, but it might well be damaged in a way that makes it dangerous. Why don't you go get a containment box while I scan it to look for damage?" Jack flipped open his wrist strap and started pressing buttons, so Ianto went to get the box. He had only gotten to the entrance of the alley when he heard a bang and a surprised yelp from Jack. He spun around to see jack removing a sparking wrist strap and grumbling to himself.
"Jack, Are you alright? What happened?" Ianto asked as he hurried over.
"Te fuche nie sirt mé vetrix mantin!" Jack groused.
"I beg your pardon?" Ianto hadn't a clue what Jack had just said. He knew Jack spoke many languages besides English, be he usually only used them for swearing, which that hadn't sounded like.
"Mé vetrix mantin; se capt!" Jack said, gesturing at the wrist strap.
"Jack, I can't understand you," Ianto said worriedly. That immediately got Jack's attention.
"Ianto, na fee kay? Na pender Engre?" Ianto just looked confused. Jack was concerned. The computer had a security device that had disabled his wrist strap, but it shouldn't have affected Ianto, and it certainly shouldn't have affected his ability to understand English. He was still speaking English, although it sounded a bit odd, so at least Jack could understand him. Jack decided to take Ianto back to the hub so Owen could have a look at him.
Jack contacted the hub on his comm. "Owen, Ianto se hurt. Te non comper Engre, mes te sen."
"What? Ianto, what's he on about? Are you alright? What language was he even speaking?" All Owen had understood was "Ianto" and "hurt."
"I'm fine. There's this alien computer. It seems to have somehow broken his wrist strap, and now he's not speaking English."
"Mé sen Engre!" Jack interrupted.
"Right, Ianto, get whatever it is contained and bring it back so Tosh can have a look at it. I'll see if I can figure out what's up with Jack when you get back."
"Okay, Jack. Let's get you back to the hub so Owen can have a look at you."
Jack frowned but complied. He still wasn't convinced that he wasn't speaking English and he didn't like his team taking over, but maybe they were right and there was something wrong with him. He spent the drive back silent for once, while Ianto told Tosh and Owen everything he knew about what had happened. Tosh thought maybe the computer had messed with Jack's brainwaves to make his thoughts come out in the wrong language.
When they arrived at the hub, Owen checked Jack over and couldn't find anything wrong. Tosh couldn't find anything on the alien computer that would have any affect on the brain. Jack holed himself up in his office to work on repairing his vortex manipulator.
While he was working on the wrist strap, Jack brought up the CCTV of Owen examining him. He wasn't really paying attention until the spot where he had started responding to the questions Owen asked him to try and figure out what was happening. He backed it up and listened to it again, before swearing and getting back to work on the vortex manipulator. He now knew what had happened and how to fix it, but he couldn't tell anyone until it was fixed.
A couple hours later, Jack emerged from his office. He held up his wrist strap. "I fixed it!"
"Jack, you're speaking English again!" Ianto said, not minding that he was pointing out the obvious.
"So, what was that all about?" Owen asked.
"That computer shorted out my vortex manipulator to prevent me from successfully scanning it. Unfortunately, that included the translator circuit, so it stopped translating stuff for me."
"Wait, Jack," Ianto protested, "are you telling me you don't actually speak English and that thing just translates everything we say?"
"Well, I speak a dialect of fifty-first century English. It never really occurred to me that you guys wouldn't actually speak that and you were being translated. Apparently, I've learned enough twenty-first century English even with the translator that I can understand it without thinking about it, but not enough that I can speak it or recognize when I'm not speaking it." Jack looked a bit sheepish. "Sorry about the scare."
"So, if I run some tests on that computer, it won't do anything to me, right?" Tosh was a little leery of working with a machine that had done that.
"Yeah, you'll be fine, although you may not want to connect the scanner to the mainframe right away in case it shorts out, too." Jack reassured her.
Everyone eventually got back to work, and Jack and Ianto went back to their budget reports.
"So, Jack. Can the translation circuit be turned off manually?"
"Yeah. Why do you ask?"
"How about you turn it off when we get home tonight and start actually learning twenty-first century English?"
"Do I get to watch you demonstrate the sounds to me?"
Author's note: The "fifty-first century English used here is completely made up. I mainly used modern English grammar, minus the articles, but changed the words. Some of the words I used are based on French words for the same thing. For example, "pender" and "comper," come from "penser" and "comprendre," respectively.
Te fuche nie sirt mé vetrix mantin!—That fucking thing shorted my vortex manipulator!
Mé vetrix mantin; se capt!—My vortex manipulator; it's dead!
Ianto, na fee kay? Na pender Engre?—Ianto, are you feeling okay? Are you thinking in English?
Owen, Ianto se hurt. Te non comper Engre, mes te sen.—Owen, Ianto's hurt. He doesn't understand English, but he's speaking it.
Mé sen Engre!—I am speaking English!