The games at Kent’s house have a similar feel to Chinuk night

WAYK Podcast, Episode 4: Revitalizing Chinuk Wawa. 39 minutes and 41 seconds.

[direct download]

[Note: Chinuk Wawa is a very endangered indigenous language native to the Pacific Northwest. Please keep in mind that we make no attempt to teach anyone to speak Chinuk Wawa by podcasting about our Chinuk nights, and during the podcast we limit our discussions to improving the use of WAYK techniques and gameplay. You won’t be able to learn Chinuk by listening to these podcasts alone. The WAYK instructors’ goal is to give tribal members the tools to revitalize their own language.]

At the WAYK immersion house, we have a weekly Chinuk Wawa potluck and conversation night, Wednesdays from 4pm to 8pm. Much like with the Squamish conversation night at Dustin Rivers’ house, speakers and WAYK players are invited to drop in and play whenever, and however long, they wish. This creates a festive, community atmosphere that makes the language play extra fun and relaxed.

By podcasting the debriefs and discussions about WAYK Chinuk Wawa potluck nights, we hope to give WAYK players insight on how we apply the game to spoken languages, in this case specifically to the case of revitalizing a highly endangered language. Issues that we discuss in this podcast:

1. Technique “Shared Experience

  • New WAYK player and Chinuk speaker Peter reflects on his “Set-up” for a “Same Conversation” on handmade baskets.
  • We speak about how the different levels of proficiency approach this conversation, from Novice to Advanced, so as not to “Sorry, Charlie” any speakers.
  • How much can we speak about the complex art of basketmaking in Chinuk Wawa? Can we teach one of our Master Basketmaker friends, Margaret, to speak Chinuk Wawa more fluently by designing this basketry conversation?

2. Technique “Same Conversation“: Family

  • Using “Set-up” and “Same Conversation” to create a kind of curriculum to speak about ‘Family’ in Wawa.

3. Technique “The Walk

  • Using technique “Start at the Beginning” to make sure more proficient speakers don’t leave others behind.
  • Learning the ‘chess-like’ nature of creating a speech community with the WAYK game, as opposed to simply getting fluently proficient on your own.

4. Playing with Ryan, a February Portland WAYK workshop attendee

  • Willem claims he deserves the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ for a particularly cool moment during game play with Ryan, who stopped by that night (his second time playing with Chinuk) for about a half an hour. He’s probably had no more than two hours of total experience playing WAYK Chinuk Wawa.
  • Ryan improving his use of “How Fascinating
  • Willem introduces Ryan to an important technique for spoken languages, “Read My Lips
  • the OCD nature of “Set-up“; laying out white napkins on an ottoman, as a surface for gameplay when no table was available, as a profound learning accelerator. In spite of it being a little weird.

Written by Evan Gardner