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Mem of the Day: Sunday, November 8th 2009

By Memrise Blog

Hello – my name’s Jonny and I head up the team that is creating mems for the site.

If you are new here, mems are the individual mental images that help you remember a specific word by tying it to something memorable. Each word you learn has a number of mems to choose from, or you can create your own. The best mems take the word, turn it inside out, scrape out its innards and blow it up like a Macy’s Day Parade balloon.

So this is the first in a series of posts about mems themselves: a behind-the-scenes feature that showcases particularly effective mems and explains why they work. First up:

Felicitate n. Congratulate Imagine you congratulate a football player and feel his teats

‘Felicitate’ itself doesn’t sound very interesting – it doesn’t spark any images in my brain, as I don’t know a Felicity – so I have to tie it to something interesting. The first step is to think of things that ‘felicitate’ sounds like, because words are strongly tied to other words that sound the same. So:

Felix ate Felix eight Felicity ate Felicity eight Flicks it eight Flick sissy taint Feel his teats

Three things always produce vivid images: sex, violence and the unusual. So ‘feel his teats’ is a good start because it is sexy and unusual. Now we need a setting for the image.

How about football? That is violent, and also the idea of feeling a macho male footballer’s teats is particularly unusual.

So we have an image – someone feeling someone’s teats. We have a setting – football. We need to tie the image to the meaning of the word, so the person feeling the teats has to be congratulating the person as well. By a simple process the mem becomes:

Imagine you congratulate a football player and feel his teats.