Sep 30, 2017The Power of Mnemonics

A photograph of the members of Hadham Hall - Form 5T July 1972
Hadham Hall School – Form 5T. Last day of school, July 1972. Form teacher Jack Doyle – crouching, center

A friend posted a mnemonic on Facebook for the sequence of the royal houses of England in chronological order — Neighbours Actually Persuaded Lovely Yvonne To Shut Her Window (Norman, Angevin, Plantagenet, Lancaster, York, Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, Windsor. He’s a history Prof., a Brit, an expat, and he has an excellent aircraft blog, so we can forgive him — or should that be thank him? — for a historical/intellectual Facebook post. ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

It was a great reminder to me of my uncle John (long gone). Way-back in the late sixties uncle John taught me a totally non-pc and unrepeatable mnemonic for remembering electrical resistors’ color codes. The colors and their order gives the resistance value. I can still recall the order thanks to his little rhyme:

Black, Brown, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, Grey, White.

As I said the mnemonic is not repeatable in polite company. I hope I got the colors order correct, with green and grey having the same first letter it plays havoc with one’s memory, and I refused to check it online. It’s probably been over 40 years since I last had to recall that!

I also have to thank my biology teacher — Jack Doyle for ‘Kinky Pat’s Crazy Over Fred’s Gumboot Socks’ (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species). He also got me to memorize (I had to pause there because I could remember the text but not whose text it was โ€ฆ ) Archimedes Principle. Which put’s my math’s teacher’s SOHCAHTOA (Sine = Opposite over Hypotenuse, Cosine = Adjacent over Hypotenuse, Tangent = Opposite over Adjacent) to shame.

Mind you I still remember it, so it can’t be that bad.

What mnemonics/childhood memories does that trigger for you?

7 thoughts on “The Power of Mnemonics”

    1. Good question! I don’t remember any, and that would have been a useful one to know, I can never remember them, let alone the correct order. I feel some Googling coming on. BTW. Good job hiding behind Janet Bone in the form picture ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Google to the rescue! “Cows Often Sit Down Carefully. Perhaps, Their Joints Creak? Persistent, Early Oiling Might Prevent Painful Rheumatism.”

          Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Recent

          1. It’s an easy one to remember then! But it is there. We are always trying to remember this when we watch “University Challenge”. By the way the questions seem more difficult to us nowadays.

  1. Hello Gary! Another one I learned very recently was:

    So My Father Ate Grapes Last Tuesday, Very Awesome Tart Napas

    to remember the order of secession of the Confederate States of America.

    South Carolina Mississippi Florida Alabama Georgia Louisiana Texas Virginia Arkansas Tennessee North Carolina

    1. Love it. This post is in danger of becoming an educational resource! I will confess to mis-reading Napas upon first parse.

      Further research has brought me: https://www.mnemonic-device.com (I have not checked the site but I’m sure it is a huge time-suck).

      BTW your email moniker made me smile. Is that shaken or stirred? (Mind you what more should one expect from someone who uses Dan Dare for their profile pic?)

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