When you’re learning a foreign language, it helps to use tricks to remember the details. Mnemonic devices are mental strategies that connect new facts with previous learning so they get hooked into your memory system instead of floating around in your brain untethered. These connections make it easier to retrieve information by giving us cognitive clues and pathways to follow when we’re searching.
And, as it turns out, mnemonic devices can be amusing and/or profound. Take these recent connections I made in Swedish class:
1) The Swedish word for “good” is “bra.” Yes, you read that right. Bra. After nursing two babies for more than three years total I can confidently say that “bra” is “good.” No bra is bad. (Really bad.) How easy is *that* to remember?!
2) The Swedish word for “married” is “gift.” The “g” makes a softer sound than it does in English – it sounds more like a “y.” But the connection my brain makes every time I say, “Jag är gift med Chris” (in English: I am married with Chris) is unmistakable. I’m thinking: “I am gifted with Chris.” And, of course, I am. This one bears remembering for reasons that go way beyond Swedish class.
3) The Swedish word for children is “barn.” As in, “Were you born in a barn? This place looks like a pigsty!” Fortunately, my mom said this to me so often during my own childhood that I have no trouble linking the concepts “barn” and “children.” It’s especially easy when I walk through my kids’ play room on my way to the kitchen and step on one of the Matchbox cars, action figures or magnetic paper doll parts strewn all over the floor. Thanks for the reminder, kids. Your slovenly habits are helping Mommy learn Swedish. (sigh)
Image Credit: “Pigs” by Tom Curtis