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That is a mnemonic to help you remember the spelling of Mnemonic. Mnemonics are words or phrases which are difficult to forget, used to remember things that are difficult to remember. (That, OK, reminds me of my fav intro line: Name is Babu Kuriakose, the first name is easy to remember, the second, difficult to forget. BHH)

Through the word mnemonic was never used, in school we imbibed a lot of them:

  • Geography: HOMES – Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior; LONGitudes
  • History: SPA – Socrates, Plato, Aristotle
  • Physics: VIBGYOR; V = IR (Iyer!, Voltage = Current x Resistance, Ohm’s Law)

(Remember Ohm’s Law. Vinu Joseph Cherian – any idea where he is? – invented the Ohm’s Law chant. Here’s how you do it – start saying ‘Ohm’s Law’ over and over again, first at normal pace, then fast, then slow, then very slow, then very fast…When 48 guys do this in harmony, at the top of the voice, the effect is awesome)

  • English: Ass Ass I Nation – Spelling help

(Remember ‘To Get Her’: Mathew Sir had completed a session on syllables, he asked the class to suggest words for him to demo and Joe Antony shouted ‘Together’. Mathew Sir fell for it…to-get-her, the class was ecstatic, and Joe got thrashed)

  • Guitar class: Every Good Boy Does Fine – EBGDF, Treble Clef Lines (I Googled!)

We also developed mnemonics for a lot of schoolboy stuff:

  • ‘APES WIN’ – The Test Playing Nations: Australia, Pakistan, England, Sri Lanka, West Indies, India, New Zealand
  • ‘Pascoe Bowls And Misses Stumps’ – Australian Test Venues: Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney
  • Clockwise – CLOSEwise

I remember the first time I came across the word mnemonics – in Popular Mechanics, in REC Reading Room, 1984 – and also some of the mnemonics mentioned in the article (the power of mnemonics!)

  • ‘My Very Earnest Mother Just Served Us Nine Pickles’ – The Nine Planets (Pluto was not just a dog in those days)
  • ‘Sohcahtoa, Indian Chief’ – Trigonometry : Sin = Opposite/Hypotenuse, Cos = Adjacent /Hypotenuse, Tan = Opposite/Adjacent
  • ‘Washington And Jefferson Made Many A Joke’…(American Presidents, in order: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Munroe, Adams, Jackson)…I cant remember (!) the middle portion of the verse, but it ends with ‘Ran To Every Kitchen Jar Nook. Ford Capitulated Readily’ (Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan).


Thanks Judy. Your book on mnemonics took me on a major nostalgia trip…

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April 2008