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Mnemonics

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I believe there are two types of people in the world:

1) those who don’t like to be corrected, and thus punish those who point their mistakes out to them. Such individuals feel somehow inadequate, lessened, or diminished by making a mistake.

2) those who love being corrected.

Sadly, 99+% of all people fall into group 1. I am proud to be a card-carrying, fuck-up-prone-and-delighted-to-be-told-when-I-do member of group 2.

Nothing pleases me more than having a mistake pointed out to me, whether of fact, style, spelling, or grammar. I’ve always been this way.

I so love to learn and be and get better, and being corrected is such an easy way to get there. Why do most people so hate it? This has been a mystery to me since I was a little boy.

One memory hack I use is creating a mnemonic – a way of helping myself remember how to spell a tricky word. Here are some I’ve made up for myself:

minuscule. usually spelled “miniscule.” Mnemonic: minuscule means tiny, smaller, less; when things get smaller, you subtract from them, using a minus sign.

defendant. often spelled “defendent.” Mnemonic: killer ants; you’re forced to defend yourself against killer ants.

misspelled. often spelled “mispelled” (this one kills me, for obvious reasons). Just think of how Miss Pell would kill you if you got her name wrong. And if she didn’t, the killer ants would.

One of the 10 best books I’ve ever read is “The Mind of a Mnemonist,” by the legendary Russian psychologist A.R. Luria. A great, great book about a man who couldn’t forget anything, ever, and Luria’s experiences with him. Unforgettable.

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  • Eric Olsen

    Joe, you are the coolest.