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Downtime Discussions 3 – an introspective memory experiment

By Memrise Blog

Memrise is down at the moment for the final in a series of database migrations (see here for more information on this). This is causing painful withdrawal symptoms in Memrisers across the world, for which we are deeply sorry.

While we await the return of Memrise, and to keep our minds stimulated, we’ve seen some very interesting questions posed here about memory and Memrise, and some lively discussion here around what makes learning fun.

This time round, we’d like to explore in a more practical way what makes for clear memories. The best way to gain insights into how one’s memory works, naturally,  is to test it, and to watch it attentively as it goes about recalling newly learned facts.

So here is a quick informal experiment to try out: try to learn to say “I love you” in eight languages, and then observe yourself as you try to remember the phrases after a short delay.* I have tried to pick languages that most native English speakers are relatively unlikely to know already but apologies (and congratulations!) if you do.

So this is how it woks:

Part 1

First, spend two mintues (time yourself!) reading “I love you” in these four languages. Repeat them as often as you can, try saying them out loud, copying the pronunciation.

Arabic: o-he-book audio

Greek: sagaPO audio

Icelandic: Ég elska þig! audio

Vietnamese : Em yêu anh audio (this is how a woman would say, “I love yo” to a man, the other way round is said differently, but lets not worry about that for now!)

Next watch a distracting video on youtube for a few minutes to let the memories fade a bit, perhaps this one

When you come back, see if you can write down “I love you” in each of those four languages. Also take note of what your memory does when it tries to recall those phrases; what does it seize on first, where are the sticking points? what pops easily into your mind and what stays tantalisingly on the tip of your tongue? Write some notes, and post them in the comments section (once you have done part 2 as well!)

 Part 2:

Next, do the same for these four words, but also look at the picture mems (which due to time pressures, are of variable quality, apologies for that, but it will be interesting to examine the process anyway!):

Polish – Kocham cię audio


Croatian – Volim te  audio


Turkish – Seni seviyorum audio


Finnish – Minä rakastan sinua audio


Now watch another bit of light hearted distraction, perhaps this one

And again, try to write out “I love you” in these four languages.

How did it go? What (if any) differences did you notice? What was hard to remember, and what jumped into your mind effortlessly? Please let us know by posting in the comments section below!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and insights. And if anyone can come up with some better mems, please do send them over and I will slot them in!

*for languages which us a non-roman script I have transliterated the words to make them easier to read for total beginners. Apologies for any inaccuracies if there are any, please do let me know and I will fix them at once.