Language hunters hunt fluent speakers, not books.

WAYK Podcast, Episode 8: “Hunting the Hunter”. 57 minutes and 35 seconds.

[direct download here]

In this episode, Evan and I debrief a session of WAYK Squamish language, where Dustin Rivers, a Squamish nation WAYK instructor led Justin Robinson, a Chinook Nation WAYK instructor (Chinuk Wawa).

1. Technique “Hunt the Hunter

  • Dustin takes Justin farther, and faster, than anyone else in any other WAYK Squamish game he has played. What happened?!
  • Dustin doesn’t use “have” during his “want/have/give/take” conversation.
  • Dustin relaxes some technique use upon reaching “want/have/give/take“, such as “in Threes“, and generally plays more jazz than classical at that point.

2. Technique “Do as the Squamish Do and dealing with language structure.

  • Full Sentence Question and Answer” makes linguistic puzzling irrelevant.
  • Dustin language hunts his other heritage language, Kwakwaka’wakw (formerly Kwakiutl), for “what is that?“.
  • How much do players really need foreign syntax explained in order to acquire fluent proficiency?

3. Technique “Hunt the Hunter

  • Justin decided on purpose not to intentionally “language hunt” Dustin during the game.
  • Does language complexity matter? How?
  • Squamish language is very specific.

4. Technique “Copy-cat

  • Willem speaks about the power of technique “Copy-cat“.

5. Technique “This/That/These/Those

  • Evan: “Most language learners don’t care about the linguistic trivia of language structure.”

6. Technique “Hunt the Hunter

  • How on earth did Justin learn so much Squamish language so fast?
  • Yes, he’s young…
  • Yes, he’s bilinguial…
  • …but most importantly, he’s a language hunter! And a three year veteran of WAYK game play.
  • Justin still tried to play the “dumb student” during the game.
  • What was the purpose of the Squamish WAYK game they just played?
  • How fast would the game go next time, if Justin fully turned on his “language hunting” skills?
  • Dustin and Justin, in under 2 hours, have already played a few steps (and a couple months) ahead of Dustin’s community WAYK players that meet for his language nights.
  • Evan says: “Keep playing with Justin, up to 4 or 5 steps ahead to get some breathing room in relation to the language community you’re brewing.”
  • Justin’s youth is certainly an asset; Dustin understands now why Evan and Willem first recommended a assemble a teenage language team.
  • The logistics of recruiting school-age teens to play WAYK Squamish.
  • Evan runs down a list of technique fluency Dustin displayed. “Start at the Beginning“, “Craig’s List“, “in Threes“.
  • Justin “pulled” Dustin through a few “how fascinating!” moments.
  • Justin’s most successful moment in the game…
  • Dustin’s most successful moments
  • entering unchartered Squamish language territory
  • thinking more in pure Squamish language.
  • experiencing ease in speaking Squamish language, for really the first time.
  • finally having a conversation, in Squamish language, with someone.
  • now he’s irritated he has no one to talk to, except Justin over skype!
  • Speaking Squamish with his community members.
  • He plans to have the longest conversation he can with his fluent elder mentor, Vanessa, the next night.
  • A while back Dustin mentioned a goal of 4 conversation partners over dinner, speaking Squamish; how close has he come?
  • Dustin wants us to translate a Chinuk Wawa gambling song; Evan asks Justin to commit to not doing so for Dustin, but rather bring Dustin to fluent conversation in all the vocabulary of the song. We think this will take four one-hour sessions.
  • Dustin refocuses on running slow, methodical games with his community, rather than going for the extraordinary speed achieved by playing with Justin.

Written by Evan Gardner