I'm training a specific category of memory competition that consists of memorizing a random sequence of words in a specific order under one minute. The general method consists of finding images corresponding to each word, and making them interact together, a procedure that can become surprisingly fast if with practice. But my issue is, sometimes you are given a word you don't know, or a combination of words that are excessively abstract. For instance, remembering a sequence of fruits is way easier than a sequence of words like 'regulatory', 'instance', 'remaining', etc.

I was wondering, and I realize this is a very broad question, but are there any works or branches of linguistics that might interest me if I am looking into finding commonalities between words? A first categorization that I've done is the use of prefixes; all words beginning with 'pre', 'pro', etc. are a bit easier to imagine since I already have an image for those suffixes, words that clearly look like they have a greek or latin etimology are also easier since I use images associated with the Roman Empire, classical greek art, nouns can be used to imagine objects or persons while adjectives and verbs can be used to modify an image from a coming noun in the sequence, etc., but I'm looking for maybe other ways to divide classes of words.

Thank you in advance!

  • What about creating your own formal hierarchy connected, for example, with the letters or sounds the words consist of? In the alphabet the letters are arranged from A to Z, so you can ascribe each letter a particular characteristic feature also having a range, like different colors, or materials, or the degree of hardness, or associate each letter with a period in history, or anything else rangeable.
    – Yellow Sky
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 21:09
  • @YellowSky Thank you for your comment! I do actually have a system for individual letters, called an alphabetical Person-Action-Object system, which memorizes 3 letters at a time as a definite image, consisting of a person acting on an object. This however is the slowest possible method to memorize a word! Consider for instance, "pronoun": given that I already have an image for "pro" (a professional tour de France cyclist) and "noun" reminds me of a nun, I imagine a nun competing at the tour de France, which is an extremely fast memorization, sped up by having a ready-set image for "pro".
    – shintuku
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 21:28
  • Using the PAO system however, "pro" is Pablo, a friend of mine, ripping apart an octopus (dear god!), but these are three pieces of information in a single image. The idea behind finding other ways to categorize words is to be able to associate images to those categories, this is why latin and greek etymology, and the set of prefixes, are useful in that sense. The idea is to minimize the amount of different images necessary to represent a particular word, when it is too abstract to have an easy image to associate with ("table", "cup", "sun", etc.).
    – shintuku
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 21:31
  • 3
    I’m voting to close this question because from the context of the question it is clear that it is not about linguistics. Maybe Lifehacks is a place for this kind of question. Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 10:03
  • Also, somebody should recommend Borges's "Funes the Memorious" ("Funes, el memorioso").
    – jlawler
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 20:28


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