Print

Print



"Donald J. HARLOW" wrote:

>  In the parking lot, a lady accosted

with a knife or with a gun?

>
> us, wanting to know the way to Tiburon. I told her to follow the Panoramic
> Highway for four and a half miles, to the four-way intersection (the very
> first intersection as you come off the mountain), and then turn _left_,
> which would take her steeply down into Mill Valley and place her at Miller
> Avenue, from which she had good directions already. I emphasized _left_,
> repeating it a couple of times. (cut to end of story, Don saw her go the wrong
> way - maf)

There are two very good reasons why she may have had problems
1) she may be eye or touch dominant (in which you're emphasizing _left_ in
speech, typical ear dominant tactic,  isn't very effective, no matter how many
times or how strongly you stress it).
2) 'right' and 'left' are an interesting case in that they are heuristic
primitives that are impossible to define without other heuristic terms. (Unless
you cheat and start dragging internal anatomy into the picture). The outside of
the human body is normally extremely symmetrical and it really is impossible to
define 'left' and 'right'. I have a pet theory that due to the way the human
senses have evolved,  people are good at distinguishing up-down assymetry(sp?),
they're generally not so good at left-right asymmetry. That's one reason why so
many children learning to write so often make left-right mistakes but not up-down
mistakes.
Anyway, I've had similar directions problems and have worked out a simple
strategy that is generally pretty effective.
Try this next time. Make sure that you're both facing the same direction (not
each other, and you might have to shuffle around a little to do this) and use
hand motions while you speak. note: stage directions are in ( )'s.
You: "Well, first you go _STRAIGHT_ (accompanied by emphatic but smaller version
of the tomahawk chop, don't worry if the road twists and turns, they'll
understand) then when you get to the first intersection, you go _LEFT_ "(use your
left hand, start the tomahawk chop but turn your left hand just as you would a
car). (When I do this, I often find people unconsciously make the same gestures,
this is the point).
This is effective because it's using the three main senses people consciously
remember things by. sound (what you say) sight (what your hands look like, which
is another reason you face the same way instead of each other) and touch (more
precisely body memory, when the person gestures with you, body memory is one of
the names for the human facility that, among other things, makes sure that once
you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget).
So when they get to the intersection, instead of juggling between two arbirtrary
word blobs 'was that left or right?' they can fall back on the type of memory
they prefer and have a much better chance of getting it right.
It works both ways too, when obtaining directions, I've learned to face the same
direction (I never ask when I'm in the car) and start doing the gestures, whether
the person I'm getting directions from does or not and maybe consciously gesture
wrong, which almost always primes the pump and gets them gesturing.

Apropos of nothing, I also have a pet theory that Eo attracts a lot of
ear-dominant people while the Interlingua (and maybe Occi) attracts sight
dominant people. Too bad there's no good IAL for us touch-dominant folks.

-amike
mike farris