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Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me

It's funny where and when you remember things. Freud says that memory works by metaphor, a giant punning machine that throws things out from the subconcious when we're asleep and our conciousness can't keep a lid on it. And we make our own mnemonics to help, little stories that are more memorable than the things they represent, a meaningless array of colurs for example: Richard of York Gained Battles In Vain. How does that work in countries where there are only five colours in the rainbow, Richard Yells Great Big Invectives? Presumably about his vain battling.

Coming up out of Westminster tube station this morning I remembered this mnemonic: Cerbere gemit en Enfer: Cerberus whines in hell. I imagine in had something to do with my exit from the bowels of the Earth, Persephone like, into Spring.

It's a list of the starting syllables of German verbs which don't take a ge- on the past participle (CeBere GeMit En EinVer). I learnt German in France and so know the French mnemonic for this now otiose collection. I wonder what the English, or even German version of this is?


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 12th, 2010 11:28 am (UTC)
I don't recall a mnemonic for that...
Mar. 12th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
... 5 colours? How can you have only 5 colours? I can understand not splitting out indigo and violet since, y'know, if you're going to do that then I want a rainbow that also features scarlet, cerise and teal, but how do you get down to 5?
Mar. 12th, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC)
Newton only named 5 at the start, although his last colour was violet rather than indigo, having RYGBV.
Mar. 12th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
My favourite mnemonic - Mother Very Easily Made Jam Sandwiches Using No Peanuts, Mayonnaise or Glue* - has been invalidated by the International Astronomical Union, tools of the Illuminati that they are. Grrr.

We Await Silent Tristero's Empire.

* Includes, of course, those as yet undiscovered planets, Mickey and Goofy.
Mar. 12th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
I've always used My Very Elegant Mother Just Sat Upon Nine Porcupines, though sadly it omits Mickey and Goofy.

My favorite mnemonic is The Girls Can Flirt And Other Queer Things Can Do, for the Mohs scale of mineral hardness: talc, gypsum, calcite, fluorite, apatite, orthoclase, quartz, topaz, corundum, diamond. I learned that when I was a child (not in school but from a field guide I read) and have remembered it ever since.
Mar. 12th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC)
I've also just remembered this one:
NApoleon MAnga ALlegrement SIx Poulets Sans CLamser Apres.
(Napeoleon cheerfully ate six chickens without croaking afterwards)

It's the third line of the periodic table.
Mar. 12th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! I never recall being taught a mnemonic for the ge-less verb forms. The only German mnemonic I learned was to sing the dative verbs to the Blue Danube Waltz:

aus außer bei mit... nach seit... von zu!

I told my university German professor that and he was utterly charmed by it, but with a critique: "It's missing gegenüber!"

So whenever we made a mistake with a dative preposition in class after that, he'd sing out: "Remember! 'Aus außer bei mit... nach seit... von zu' ...gegenüber!"
Mar. 16th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
"Sans CLamser ARistocratiquement" might be better, unless argon is spelt without an 'r' in French.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )