Magnet FAQs

Posted by Rezwan Razani on Jun 24, 2013 at 11:06 AM

The FAQs on Persian-English Word Magnets.

  1. What is a word magnet?
  2. What are “Persian-English Word Magnets”
  3. Where can I get them?
  4. What is the history of word magnets?
  5. Why words?
  6. Why not alphabet?
  7. What are the rules of Magnetic Word Play?
  8. How do the magnets boost creativity?
  9. What do people say about the magnets?
  10. Why not complete lines of famous poetry?
  11. How do the magnets inspire songwriting?
  12. How will Magnets help the Persian language to thrive in America?
  13. Why is it important to surround yourself with Persian words?
  14. What is subconscious word recognition?
  15. How do the magnets help with Whole Word Recognition?
  16. How can the magnets promote bonding with family members?

What is a word magnet?

It’s a word printed onto a magnet.

What are “Persian-English Word Magnets”

They are Persian words printed onto magnets, with English translation and transliteration on the back.  Our Original Persian-English Word magnets come in three flavors: Standard, Courtship and t’Arof

Where can I get them?

Great news! We have uncovered a few more kits from the old storage unit.  Order yours now! 

What is the history of word magnets?

The idea is based on the “cut-up technique” pioneered by surrealist poets such as William S. Burroughs, Tristan Tzara and Brion Gysin. They would cut up words from magazines, novels and newspapers, mix them up, and put them together at random.

The point was to break free from the tyranny of expectation and encounter words fresh! New! Random and out of context. Here are some fun, do it yourself cut-up links.

One day, a man who was into the cut-up technique cut up a bunch of words and tried to compose poems with them. But there was a big problem with this. He had allergies. Every time he got a good poem going, he would sneeze and all the words would go flying.

Frustrated, he came up with the brilliant idea of sticking the words onto magnets, and that’s how Magnetic Poetry was born. Since then, English speakers have been playing with dozens of variations of magnetic word kits. We here at CoolzabAn were inspired to make Persian-English kits when we saw some Spanish-English kits.

Why words?

A word is the smallest unit of language. It lies between letters and sentences. Each word is a point of meaning that can take you in any direction.

Words are the building blocks of sentences. They can be combined and re-combined in an almost infinite number of ways.

We take words for granted when we read or talk. Sometimes just by looking at the word in a sea of randomness, we can discover it anew.

For those who are learning Persian, the word is a good place to start. Holding a magnet word in your hand changes your relationship to words. You’ve got the whole word. In your hand. You own it. You can play with it, use it as a tool, ponder it. The word is yours.

Why not the alphabet?

The Persian-English word magnet kit comes with a handy alphabet card that explains the mysteries of the Persian alphabet. For more about the alphabet, visit our alphabet section

And stay tuned, because we are working on a totally cool alphabet card game.  Donate now to help us get the alphabet game done sooner. Leave a note with your donation that you are particularly interested in the alphabet card game.

What are the rules of Magnetic Word Play?

Like all small things, the magnets are a choking hazard, so keep them out of reach of children.

Oh. You meant rules of play?

The first rule of Persian-English Magnetic Word Play is: There are no rules.

If you want, you can take the sheets of magnets out of the box and use them as drink coasters. If you want, you can break apart the sheets and use the magnet pieces! You can ignore the words on the magnets and use them to make abstract patterns. You can actually use the words to make phrases and sentences! They can be very serious, grammatical sentences. They can be silly, random word art!

The choice is yours.

These words are your toys. You own them. They are smaller than you. While we have tips and notes for you, always remember, there are no rules and you can do no wrong.

Here’s the message in Persian:

Oh, you just wanted some grammar rules?  Try these.

How do the magnets boost creativity?

Without preconceived notions, anyone can draw out words that resonate with them and put them together into phrases that end up being poetic, whimsical, humorous, profound, random, practical or just plain silly. Experiment and play often breeds creativity.

Check out our notes on creativity.

Now if you want more specific tips on how to get started with word magnets, try this:

  • Spread the words out over the fridge (or other play space)
  • Look the words over. Search. Scan.
  • Notice that you are drawn to certain words. They stand out for you. Resonate with you. Provoke you.
  • Pull those words aside. Put them together. This is the start of your composition.
  • Look for other words and grammar units, if needed, to complete the thought. (See section on Grammar for tips)
  • Don’t forget, you can also make up new words out of the words you have by combining words, using suffixes, prefixes, and just random word-sewing.
  • But most of all, relax and make any association you feel like! Logical, illogical, it’s OK. Experiment! Play!

What do people say about the Magnets?

A lot!  Here are some quotes.  Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.  We would love to hear how you are using the magnets. 

Why not complete lines of famous poetry?

We have been asked many times why we didn’t just print up a bunch of lines of famous Persian poetry. 

What a great idea! Imagine the kit starting out with some famous lines of poetry, and then you break it up and write new poetry. That would be cool.

When you go to Iran, you can buy books of poetry and lots of poems to hang up around your house, and that’s all very nice. But the purpose of the word magnets is to be interactive and to encourage you to write your own poetry, not to be a passive observer of other people’s poetry.  Persian poetry is amazing. We would love to see a kit that is all poetic words, where you just worry that sometimes our fellow Iranians are intimidated by it, and so avoid reading and writing. To combat that, we encourage play! Anarchy! Crazy compositions with words! (You can also do serious stuff. extiAr dArid). 

How do the magnets inspire songwriting?

Well, if you’re musically inclined, some of the strange phrases you stick together might be the start of a fabulous song. Allegedly David Bowie uses the cut-up technique for song writing, and Madonna uses those English Magnetic word kits.

If you’ve been inspired, we’d love to hear your song.  Add to the magnet playlist.

How will Magnets help the Persian language to thrive in America?

Read our “Heritage Language” section for the complete answer to this. Did you know that in America, on average, an immigrant populations loses its heritage language (the language of the country of origin) within 3 generations? That is, unless they take strong steps to intervene.

Why is it important to surround yourself with Persian words?

Language fluency requires tons of repetition and exposure. You need to see words, experience their use in different contexts, over and over for them to become a natural part of your consciousness.

What is subconscious word recognition?

Subconscious word recognition is the goal of literacy. You become a good reader when your brain can identify a word, instantly, subconsciously, without you having to analyze it. For more information on this phenomenon (and the amazing human brain) read our “Whole Word Recognition” section.

How do the magnets help with Whole Word Recognition?

Before you get to whole word recognition, you need to learn the alphabet and sounds that correspond to each letter and group of letters. In other words, you need to learn phonics. Our magnets assume you already know how to read English. In other words, if you’re an older kid or adult that can read English, the transliteration on the back is a very helpful phonics awareness tool that will help you sound out the word and learn the letters. Repeated exposure will get your mind to start mapping and recognizing patterns in the letters. Now you’re closer to the whole word recognition part. According to literature on phonics, it takes an average of 38 encounters with a new word before the brain learns to recognize it on sight. This may seem like a lot, but if you keep the magnets out in an exposed place (like on the refrigerator, or other prominent place) you will achieve this number of exposures quickly and painlessly, all while having random, silly fun with a bunch of word magnets.

How can the magnets promote bonding with family members?

The best way for language to thrive is if it’s spoken. It needs to live and breathe and exercise. Use it or lose it. The way magnets help here is that they get you out of a rut. In the typical Iranian-American home, the use of Persian language starts to erode and gets limited to certain types of conversations, pleasantries, what do you want for dinner, and so forth. When you suddenly throw in all these magnetic words and create a situation in which you are playing with them, coming up with novel concepts and deep thoughts, it naturally gets you to express yourself in more complicated ways in Persian (as well as English) (and did we mention the bi-lingual advantage). And of course, you all talk amongst yourselves (and feel the buzz of kinship and friendship) and get that lively humming in the language centers of the brain at the same time.

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