I want to learn some words from different languages.

For example I want to learn Greek μελάνι which means ink.

However, since I knew this word as dark or black in English morphology and etymology from earlier times, it seems that my memory is not getting corrected.

Anytime I look at μελάνι, I experience this scenario:

  1. At first I realize that it's the word that is the root of many English words, say melanoma for example.
  2. Then the black or dark is getting loaded from my long-term -> declarative -> semantic memory.
  3. Then I get happy to remember its meaning.
  4. Then I check the meaning to make sure.
  5. Then I realize that it means ink.
  6. Then I realize that I have a wrong piece of memory.
  7. Then I notice that the previous time I underwent the same scenario, that I'd forgotten now.

This gets repeated so much, that I think it must be a known phenomenon in linguistics and memory.

Do we have any studies focusing this issue? Do we have a term for it? How can we fix a wrong memory to make room for its fixed new one?

  • 1
    There’s nothing wrong with your memory – ‘ink’ is derived from ‘black’ in lots of languages because (basic) ink is black. Cognates of ‘black’ (like Danish blæk) mean ‘ink’; Chinese 墨 ‘ink’ and 黑 hēi ‘black’ both contain the character for ‘black’ and are – despite their dissimilarity – also cognate; and μελάνι is of course also derived from the Greek word meaning ‘black’ as well. Oct 11 '20 at 17:14
  • 2
    I don't think this is specifically a linguistic question, but a question about memory generally. For example if in learning the multiplication table as a child you'd mistakenly memorized 8x7 as being 54, it would probably be hard to overwrite that later. It's an interesting question, but I'm not sure it's on topic or answerable here.
    – TKR
    Oct 11 '20 at 18:23

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