I don’t know a real person with the last name Biv. You probably don’t either. But the name Roy G. Biv has occupied space in my head since I was a kid. I learned this simple mnemonic to remember the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. I’ve known Roy G. Biv for so long, it is hard to remember who introduced us, but I think it was my science teacher, Mr. Rose.
I don’t remember using acronyms to help me memorize any other lists. My husband learned the mnemonic HOMES to remember the names of the great lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. When he told me the acronym, I was able to name all but one.
I asked my husband if he thought that “I before E except after C” is a mnemonic and he didn’t think so. But it is. A mnemonic does not have to be an acronym, although many of them are. It is just a technique to help you remember something. This particular mnemonic is flawed though because the English language is wierd.
A memory technique that I don’t practice but have read about is called the Method of Loci. If you need to remember a list of items to pick up at the grocery store, you could imagine each item in a room in your house. It sounds like a lot of preparation to me. But when I see a server take the orders of several people around a table without writing anything down, I think they must be using this kind of mnemonic device and I am quite impressed.
Mnemonic devices are kind of cool and I feel kind of cheated that I didn’t learn more of them. There’s still lots of useless information in my head so Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.
Memory is both fascinating and frustrating. It’s fascinating that I can remember a made-up name from the seventh grade but I won’t remember that I have an appointment unless I write it down.