Beneficial Mnemotodes
Helpful little things that wriggle their way into your memory...
...whether you like it or not.

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(nee-mon'-ic, ni-mon'-nic) adj. 1: assisting, or intended to assist the memory. 2: pertaining to memory or mnemonics. n. a technique or formula to help in remembering. mnemonics n. the science or art of improving the memory as by the use of certain formulas

Mnemonics are helpful little phrases or acronyms that help you remember something, often a group of things that go together. There are several reasons why mnemonics appeal to me:

  • As a person who has the collector gene, little groups of things (collections) appeal to me.
  • ...especially a collection of ways to remember little collections of things.
  • I have a habit of accumulating semi-useless information
  • ...and I have often found the things one can remember via mnemonics to be... less than fully useful.
  • Like palindromes, they often generate very silly sentences and phrases, which have validity because of their mnemonic purpose.
  • Hint for making your own mnemonics for sets of things, or names, or what have you:

    1) the first mnemonic you make up for a given thing is likely to be the best -- it'll be the first one that comes to mind.
    2) the stupider the better -- that just makes it all the more memorable.
    Sometimes I think of something silly to remember someone's name (for example), and I think "That's stupid. I should think of a better mnemonic." But you know what? When push comes to shove, it's the stupid one that seems to work best.

    Write me if you'd like to suggest a great mnemonic you know, that I haven't covered.
    Or just write me with comments...

    One of the first mnemonics I learned was in pre-school
    (primary school, as it was called in the Montessori system)...
    Her first nurse works early.
    This is the five different letter combinations that make the phonetic sound: er, ir, ur, or, ear.
    I like it... I still remember it, so it must have worked!

    Taxonomic Levels, in descending order:
    K--- P--- C--- O--- F--- G--- S---
    Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species
    There are dozens of similar mnemonics for this set. This is the classic Biological sequence, but note that in Botany, Division replaces Phylum: KDCOFGS(v) (that last v is for variety, if you want to include that). I encourage you to make up your own mnemonic for whichever version of this sequence you prefer or require.

    The first 18 elements of the periodic chart, in order:
    Hydrogen, Helium, LiBeBCNOF, NeNa MgAl SiPS Chlorine, Arg!
    pronounced: Hydrogen, Helium, Libbeb-k'noff, Nina, m'gal sips chlorine, argghh!
    Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium, Boron, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Fluorine, Neon, Sodium, Magnesium, Aluminum, Silicon, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Chlorine, Argon.
    For good measure, I usually throw a K on the end of my "arggh", to remember Potassium. I keep trying to work on something that will extend this to include more elements, but that's about as far as I get...
    This does have a bit of rote memorization. You just have to know Hydrogen, and Helium, and then this nonsense word, Libbebk'noff. And you have to be able to remember the elements from their single or double-letter symbols. While you're at it, you may as well remember the shape of the chart, too, for that matter.
    This is a fun one, but how often does knowing this kind of thing really come in handy, really? Trivia questions, impressing one's friends, etc... Have I mentioned I can do the alphabet backwards really fast, too?

    coming soon: The seven deadly sins
    I have a favorite way to remember these, courtesy of George Carlin. I'd like to get the exact wording correct before I put it up
    Write me if you have any other good mnemonics, for these, or any others not yet mentioned.
    Is there a good one for the seven dwarves?
    The nine muses? I found one, but it looks a bit lame - it's just not sticking for me.

    --- Copyright © 2004 by Alison Frane ---