Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mnemonics Made Me Do It: Animal Words In Chinese Via Visual Memory Cues

Having recently spent some time reading and learning a little bit about how memory works (many thanks to Memrise.com and to your wonderful blog!), I've decided to try something different to help my readers learn some Chinese words.  Here are a few Chinese words for animals for which I've created visual mnemonics (memory aids).  Take a quick gander at the images and their descriptions, and after reading through all of them, see the list at the bottom of this post and try to recall each of the words you learned.  Don't be surprised if these words become a permanent part of your memory.  Let me know if this technique worked for you by commenting below.  As an added bonus, click on each of the Chinese animal words in blue to learn the Chinese character for that word via mnemonics on memrise.com.

Cat photo by elian (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html),  
CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons;
Photo of Mao Zedong adapted from image © Raimond Spekking / Wikimedia 
Commons /CC-BY-SA-3.0 & GFDL
The Chinese word for "cat" is māo which is pronounced just like the Mao in Mao Zedong (Mao rhymes with "wow").Here we see a cat that's searching the internet for "Mao" (Mao Zedong), helping us to remember that cat = māo.

Here we have a cow whose "knee" is sporting a "u".  The Chinese word for "cow" is " niú (pronounced "knee - u"). 

By Contributor (self-taken) [GFDL 
(http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html),CC-BY-SA-3.0 or  
CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
The Chinese word for "dog" is gǒu (pronounced like "go"). This picture shows us a nice place for doggies to "go" when they need to "go". 

 Photo by TSayles via Flick
To say "horse" in Chinese, we say .  To help us remember, here's a picture of your ma riding a horse.  Well, maybe not your ma, but someone's ma, no doubt.

adapted from "Sheep in the shadow of a sheep" 
(Dave Croker) / CC BY-SA 2.0
The Chinese word for "sheep" is yáng (like yawn with a "g" at the end).  Here we see a picture of a sheep yawning plus the letter G.

Image adapted from an image by Furryscally via Flickr

To say "snake", we say shé, which sounds like "shut" without the "t".  It also sounds very much like shushing someone, so our picture is of a snake shushing us.

Image by Squish_E via Flickr
"" is the word for "fish".  These fish are somehow tattooed with the phrase, "I love you".  Perhaps we could change it to "I love ?"

Image by iBjorn via Flickr
is it hiding in that tiger costume? Perhaps they were trying to illustrate that the Chinese word for "tiger" is.

Image by tompagenet via Flickr
This little monkey is playing with a hose.  Clearly he's trying to show us that the Chinese word for "hose" is hóuzi (pronounced "ho-zuh").

Image adapted from an image by Carly & Art via Flickr

This hungry rabbit is eating some twos to help us remember that the word for "rabbit" is tùzi (two-zuh).

MamaGeek at en.wikipedia
[GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0],
from Wikimedia Commons
In Chinese, the word for "pig" is zhū, which is pronounced like the "ju" in "juice".  In this photo you can see the little piggies drinking the mommy pig's pig juice.  That should help you remember that to say "pig" you say zhū, like the "ju" in "juice".

Image by Ambism via Flickr

Wow.  These are some loud shoes.  Don't you agree?  Thankfully, these loud shoes are useful for something other than as clothing (thank goodness!).  The word for "rat" and "mouse" sounds just like "loud shoes!" That word is lǎoshǔ.

Alright, now see if you can recall the Chinese words for each of the animals listed below:

1.  horse
2.  dog
3.  cat
4.  rabbit
5.  snake
6.  monkey
7.  mouse
8.  pig
9.  tiger
10.  fish
11.  cow
12.  sheep

How did you do?

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