Saturday, September 10, 2011

(Fly) Fishing for the felt sense of a relaxed stressed syllable

Clip art: Clker
Every sport has its identifiable moments when mind, body and purpose intersect, when all conscious attention is on the action, not the form of how it is being done. One of my favorite metaphors (or: haptic-a-phors) has been the flowing, relaxed upper body of the accomplished fly fisher. If nonnatives speakers are  fly fishers, it is almost always easy for them to "catch" and  integrate English rhythm and stress patterns. Although this video is not all that great (and you have to sit out the commercial) the visual of the upper body fluidity and torso nod, especially that of the instructor, is pretty good.

Fly fishing upper torso movement accompanying short phrases or sentences never fails to anchor the basic pedagogical movement pattern. (To get full haptic anchoring, have the learner "catch" the rod hand with the control hand on the stressed syllable.) If you are not a fly fisher, cast around for a different sport, e.g., a basketball slam dunk, hammering in roofing nails, playing one sforzando after another on the piano, pounding the desk with your iPad after it freezes for the last time on you . . .

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