Using Mnemonics to Learn Russian? Posted by yelena on Dec 5, 2013 in language
(Early Soviet poster pushes for literacy among women: “Woman! Learn to read!”. The young girl says to her mother: “Oh, mother! If you could read, you’d be able to help me!”)
Memorizing grammar rules and, especially, exceptions to them, can be, to put it mildly, not fun at all. What’s worse, they tend to в одно ухо влетают, из другого вылетают (go into one ear and out of the other).
That’s why I am a big fan of mnemonic devices. I still remember the very first one I learned back in the primary school, “жи/ши пиши с буквой и” (write letter “и” in the “жи” and “ши” syllables even though you hear it as “ы”), I’ve relied on it ever since.
Some others that stuck in my mind and that I still use include:
Иван Родил Девчонку Велел Тащить Пелёнку – the beginning letters of each word correspond with the beginning letters of the noun cases – именительный (nominative), родительный (genitive), дательный (dative), винительный (accusative), творительный (instrumental), предложный (prepositional).
Каждый Охотник Желает Знать Где Сидит Фазан (lit: each hunter wants to know where pheasant sits) does the same trick for the colors of the rainbow – красный (red), оранжевый (orange), жёлтый (yellow), зелёный (green), голубой (light blue), синий (dark blue), фиолетовый (purple).
Another one I remember, but fail to use most of the time is надеть одежду, одеть Надежду (to put on clothes, to dress Nadezhda). It helps to remember when to use the verb надеть (to put an article of clothing on oneself) and when to use одеть (to put an article on clothing on someone else).
I was recently reminded of a little rhyme that helps remember the planets in order and that goes like this: Меркурий – раз, Венера – два-с, три – Земля, четыре – Марс, пять – Юпитер, шесть – Сатурн, семь – Уран, восьмой – Нептун (Mercury is one; Venus – two; Earth – three; four – Mars; five – Jupiter; six – Saturn; seven – Uranus; Neptune is the eighth.)
There are lots of other “little helpers” that I use to, among other things, remember to write the word труженик (worker) with only one н, to not add ь at the end of невтерпёж (can’t wait) or to stress the correct vowel in the word торты (cakes).
The problem with many of these rules is that they are easy for native speakers. But I think they aren’t all that helpful if you are learning Russian as a foreign language. What, if any, mnemonics have you used to memorize Russian words or grammar rules? Have you tried creating your own мнемоника (mnemonics)? On the other hand, do you have a favorite English-language mnemonic rule that you wish you knew how to say in Russian?