Judi asks about learning vocabulary, and specifically about how to organize your vocabulary in your memory palace. Should you sort your words alphabetically, or by parts of speech?
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Music credit: Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet, 2nd movement, performed by the US Army Band.
The alphabetization issue is fascinating, and I would like to add that the purpose of organizing and memorizing words alphabetically need not have to do with “searching” for them in real time during a conversation or while reading (though this can happen and can be useful).
The purpose of organizing and memorizing words alphabetically is for using “organic” recall practice in which the alphabetization serves as an aid. This is an alternative to index card-based rote learning because it draws solely upon the imagination in order to assist the entry of the words into long term memory so they don’t have to be accessed using mnemonics.
Thus, one would do well to at least try combining alphabetization and parts of speech-centered approaches, or theme-based approaches, etc. if you are using mnemonics to practice recall while allowing the “second-nature” and nearly intuitive logic of alphabetization to assist you in the rehearsal process. This is well worth experimenting with, not really connected with the problems of traditional education and used by mnemonists engaged in language learning for rehearsing memorized words typically as part of writing, reading, listening and speaking the language.
Thanks for the great episode!
Good points, Anthony. Thanks. I guess it makes sense to review words based on alphabetization if the goal is to review words in a predetermined but still basically shuffled order; the thing is that alphabetization creates groups of words that really have nothing to do with each other, except the very first letter, which I think is one of the least important things about any given vocabulary word. It still serves as a prompt, in the same way that stressed syllables do in my system. Running with that, I suppose one could apply a similar method by sorting words based on stressed syllables, organized alphabetically, though of course that would be more complicated. It’s food for thought, anyway.