However, since we Brits are happy to encourage pompous Junior Officers to think excessively highly of themselves despite their general ignorance of strict military terminology, the word Subaltern is commonly used to refer only to those at the bottom of the commissioned-officer food-chain, meaning the Second Lieutenant (or one-pip-wonder) and the Lieutenant.
They range in quality from utterly clueless (particularly for non-grads) to very experienced, capable soldiers. Grads don't really have time for that bit and carry 'utterly clueless' with them until well into their Captaincy.
Well, at least that's what Team Non-Grad would have you believe, to make up for the enormous chips they all carry around with them.
By the way, Lieutenant is, despite being a French word (meaning something along the lines of 'the bloke who watches the fort while the real boss is away'), pronounced LEFF-tenant. Anyone pronouncing it loo-TENANT is either a) French b) a Septic or c) a mong.
Theft of the term
The term was pinched by a bunch of post-colonialist poseurs to refer to junior outsider components of the colonial power structure, as in "Can the Subaltern speak?", an incomprehensible pile of shite written by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.
|Commissioned Officer ranks|
|Second Lieutenant → Lieutenant → Captain → Major → Lieutenant Colonel → Colonel →|
Brigadier → Major General → Lieutenant General → General → Field Marshal
|Junior & Non-Commissioned ranks|
|Private → Lance Corporal → Corporal →|
Sergeant → Staff Sergeant → Warrant Officer Class 2 → Warrant Officer Class 1
|Find similar in the Dictionary|