Monday 17 February 2014

Frustratingly fascinating

After some much-appreciated feedback in the Google group from Arne Sostack and Ben Barrett, I have realised that as killing fairies goes, that video was a massacre. And from the guy who came up with this. How embarrassi... How Fascinating!

As most of you will know, "fairies" are the mythical creatures that make language "click" in our brains without needing it to be explained to us. It's really what WAYK is all about, when you think about it. The Obviously, the Set-ups, all that jazz.

Fairies are a bit like Goldilocks. If you make things too cold and dull, with stuff your brain already knows, or too hot, with too much new stuff for your brain to work out, the fairies don't come. But if it's just right, if you make everything obvious and known and put out just a tiny tidbit of new information, along comes the fairy and *poof*, it goes in the same way your mother tongue went in all those years ago.

To put it another way, it's the reason why jokes aren't funny when you have to explain them.

There are two morals to this story.

Firstly, this concept is so fundamental to WAYK that what I did in that video almost doesn't qualify as WAYK. If you're interested in getting started with WAYK, you simply cannot let yourself be put off by the silly name and disregard what is being called "fairies". After all, what's in a name? This phenomenon is real, and it's the whole point.

Why did anybody ever feel the need to theorise that there's a Universal Grammar inside all our heads? Because our brains just take on too much information too quickly for it to be raw brain power alone. We don't talk because we're clever, just ask any idiot. We talk because we're hardwired for it, and we still don't quite know how.

Secondly, it's important to get your head around how you're going to introduce new material during a session. Being familiar with the material itself as at least as important as being familiar with how you're going to weave it in.

Something I didn't do before I got started was actually play with a practitioner to see how it works. I thought I'd be fine just watching the demonstration videos, but there's often a lot of explaining in those. What I didn't have clear enough in my head is that talking about the method before and after, debriefs and so on, are fine, but talking about the language itself is banned. It doesn't matter if you're translating individual words or sentences, don't. The less you have to explain, the more you're doing it right.

There are two things to do for this: Firstly, read up on the top 20 techniques, particularly Obviously!, Set-up, Just In Time and Bize-sized Pieces, and all the others on the wiki that there's a write-up for, especially Invisible Friend. Secondly, play at least one session with a practitioner. Skype is good enough for play-testing WAYK, and ready and willing practitioners are easily reachable through the Google group. You have to do this if you want to make sure you're doing it right. Failing that, film your mistakes and let 'em have at it.

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