Thinking about Mnemonic Systems for Learning Words and Languages

I’ve been thinking about mnemonic systems for memorizing foreign words similar to some of the descriptions I’ve read about Giordano Bruno’s system. I don’t think it would be efficient to memorize every single syllable of a foreign word with an image, but it might be useful to have a vocabulary of images that could be applied to any word in order to jog the memory.

I’m just brainstorming out loud (as usual) and it’s still a rough idea.

Giordano Bruno organized his system with rotating wheels like this:

Giordano Bruno memory wheel

Instead of a wheel, one could make a matrix of possible sounds something like the chart below (which is just a quick, incomplete sketch). The consonants on the left are combined with the sounds across the top. E.g., k + a = ka, k + o = ko.


(It might be useful to borrow some of the consonants and vowels from a phonetic alphabet for sounds that don’t appear in English, like the Portuguese sound, -ão. Tones for languages like Chinese and Thai could be added as image modifiers.)

Each row would get an image and each column would get an image, something like the concept of Sem³. Combining the two would make a compound image that represents a syllable. The compound image could be made up of two separate images, or an image and an action. It could be possible to have an image for most sounds anyone would encounter with maybe as few as 50 to 200 images. It would be more versatile than just memorizing letters, which can have different sounds in English.

A system like this could even be useful by memorizing names or poetry where it is sometimes difficult to memorize the difference between similarities like: Marie, Mary, Maria, Maire, Mariella, Mariela, Marielle, etc.



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