The German Word Eselsbrücke (Mnemonic) Posted by Constanze on May 3, 2019 in Language
Guten Tag! Today we are going to look at the German word die Eselsbrücke, and what it means. Not only is it an interesting word, but an Eselsbrücke is something that might even help you with your language learning!
Die Eselsbrücke literally translates to ‘the donkey bridge’. Its actual translation in English, however, is mnemonic – an abbreviation, phrase or rhyme used to help remember things.
Die Eselsbrücke is made up of the words der Esel (donkey) and die Brücke (bridge). So what do a donkey and a bridge have to do with mnemonics?
This word, die Eselsbrücke, refers to a time when donkeys were used to transport goods. People used to create shortcuts in the form of bridges, to cut down on the time it would take to transport the goods from place to place. A mnemonic can be seen as a ‘mental shortcut’, and that is why this word – Eselsbrücke – is used in German to describe it.
However, it is also commonly known as der Merksatz or der Merkspruch. The first part of these words – Merk – comes from the German verb merken: to remember/to notice/to realise. Der Satz means sentence or phrase, and der Spruch means saying.
In English, you would say to ‘create’ a mnemonic. However, in German, you’d build one. So if you wanted to advise a student on how to remember something tricky, you’d say:
“Bau dir eine Eselsbrücke”
“Build yourself a donkey-bridge”
Are there any Eselsbrücken you can use to help you learn German?
Yes, there are. Here is an example. To help you remember which prepositions take the accusative case and which take the dative case, you can use these Eselsbrücken:
Für – for
Um – around/at
Gegen – against
Ohne – without
Durch – through
Entlang – along
Bei – at
Aus – from/out of
Mit – with
Seit – since
Von – from
Ausser – except
Nach – after
Zu – to
As you start learning different topics, have a look for any Eselsbrücke that might help you remember what you’re learning. Alternatively, why not make up your own? And if you have any good Eselsbrücken to help you remember certain aspects of German, why not share them in the comments below? 🙂
die Mnemotechnik – mnemonic/memory-aiding technique
die Erinnerung/das Gedächtnis – memory
das Gedächtnistraining – memory training
das Hilfsmittel – aid/help
die Lerntechnik – learning/study technique
studieren – to study
erinnern – to remember
zurückrufen – to recall
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