Oh, for heaven’s sake, let me try again…m-n-e-m-o-n-i-c-s. There, but please don’t ask me to say it again!
What’s a mnemonic? I don’t know, I can’t remember! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one.)
Do you have a favourite mantra or mnemonic for remembering how to spell words (or facts even)? There are all sorts; they come in all shapes and sizes:
George Eliot’s Old Grandmother Rode A Pig Home Yesterday (Geography)
Rhythm Has Your Two Hips Moving (I like that one)
Two Cots Need Two Mattresses In Any Accommodation
A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream (Arithmetic)
Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants (Because)
StationERy is for things like papER and StationARy is for something that isn’t moving, like a pARked cAR
There is a LIE in beLIEve or Never BeLIEve a LIE
FRI the END of your friend
A deSSert is Super Sweet and a deSert is Sandy
When you assume you make an ass out of u and me
Loops are loose and it is easy to lose a shoe
Wherever there is a Q there is a U too
Goofy Greg loved to exaggerate
There’s a rat in separate
It’s necessary to remember the cesspool in the middle or Not Every Cat Eats Sardines (Some Are Really Yummy)
Then, there’s the good old:
Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain (colours of the rainbow)
And infinite variations for the order of the planets (whether or not you include Pluto):
Men Very Easily Make Jugs Serve Useful Nocturnal Purposes
My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas
My Very Elegant Mother Just Sat Upon Nine Porcupines
Now, my old favourite was: I before E, except after C. Couldn’t possibly go wrong with that one, (I thought, many moons ago when I was at school). I’ll always get the spelling right for perceive, receive, conceive, ceiling, receipt, conceit, deceit, deceive, ceiling.
But waddya know: there are more exceptions to the rule than instances that conform to it. There are, in fact, 923 English words that have ‘cie’ within; 21 times as many words break the rule than don’t. Too few words actually follow the rule: it applies, it seems, to words with an ei spelling that have a clear ee sound. There are so many exceptions, it actually nullifies the rule (and is no longer taught in schools).
If I list all 923 words, I may have my gruel rationed yet again, but look at these examples that defy the ‘after C’ part:
Ancient, conscience, financier, society, species
And then these that just laugh in the face of the ‘I before E’ part…
Being, beige, caffeine, feint, feisty, foreign, forfeit, heifer, height, heir, heist, neighbour, protein, reign, rein, seismometer,seize, their, veil, vein, weigh (weight), weird
It’s just not fair, is it? An old-timer you thought you could rely on falls by the wayside.
Do you have any favourites?