Living & Dying In 5/4 Time (waitingman) wrote in linguaphiles,
Living & Dying In 5/4 Time

Stumped on how to spell Woolloomooloo? Start with sheep toilet...

David Astle does the Friday Cryptic Crossword in the Sydney Morning Herald & is better known by his initials (DA - Don't Attempt). He was also the 'Dictionary Corner' in Australia's short-lived version of 'Countdown' (which we had to call 'Letters & Numbers', as there had been a music show called 'Countdown' in Australia for decades- itself a local version of 'Top Of The Pops') His weekly word columns are always amusing & often perplexing. For example...

Stumped on how to spell Woolloomooloo? Start with sheep toilet

David Astle
Crossword compiler, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

My very educated mother just served us nachos. Though some years earlier, she offered new potatoes. I blame the International Astronomical Union, demoting Pluto’s planetary status in 2006, obliging my very educated mother (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars) to switch menus.

Everyone has a few memory tricks in reach, from the rainbow’s ROYGBIV to the orchestral mantra of Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit – the healthier alternative to nachos. Maths whiz Lily Serna taught me BODMAS – Brackets, Order, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction – and one day I look forward to applying my acronym.

Mnemonic is the technical term, a memory tool named after Mnemosyne, literally remembrance – the Greek goddess of recall. Deep into Scrabble nerdery, I drafted a brain-jogger to capture every valid initial for Gaelic’s AE ending, every hae and tae to furnish a Triple Word Score, but that chant has faded for lack of recital.

Other chants remain, however, many of them catchphrases to verify a treacherous word’s spelling. We are weird, for example, will never see me write wierd again. I’d also like to say hi to hieroglyphics, the image of a waving scarab inscribing the idea deeper.

Ever since the bubonic plague, teachers have warned students about a rat in separate. And if you’re in doubt, remember: the principal is your pal – a friend to the end. I label these devices orthographorisms, the mind-maxims that enable us to negotiate English, from the ice (noun) in practice (noun), to the sheep-toilet-cow-toilet sequence of Woolloomooloo.

Last week I issued a hieroglyphic hi on my Twitter scroll, curious to see what mnemonics came back. The response was affecting, as opposed to effecting, because RAVEN (A for Verb, E for Noun) is how Sharon Mulready distinguishes those two cousins.

Whether or not you realise, replied Katherine Forward, a wether on the farm has had its h castrated, while “weather holds heat – albeit as an anagram”. Dylan Walton believes a lie is essential to believe. Matthew Maher can’t unsee the nun in pronunciation. Just as David Neimann found definitely a difficult proposition, “until I realised the cause of that irritation was the nit in there!”

Embarrassment can be avoided if you remember to include both doubles, a similar configuration to the twin-bed suites within accommodation. (Or “two Cots, two Mattresses” as Sheree Strange prefers.) Likewise, when getting dressed, one Collar and two Socks are necessary, while occasion – the word – necessitates the opposite ensemble.

Stationary is a common stinker, most of us using envelope’s e to single out the paperwork. If it helps, the words are related, since a stationer’s reams and quires were too bulky to hawk on wheels, obliging his store to keep stock-still. Though maybe that only befuddles you further. Stick to envelope’s e.

Speaking of Es, we know the vowel precedes I after C – the timeless jingle designed to master ceiling and perceive, yet juicier deceit exists among a species of efficient scientists. Away from the familiar, I revelled in receiving many new mnemonics, like the Superman summoned by Peter Hayes, the hero’s emblazoned S rescuing Peter from the internal dilemma of supersede.

Or Linda Brady’s prompt to lead her through guide: “U go first and I will follow”. But beware the moose on the loose: the warning Anita Chesmond conjured to teach her kids how to shrug their loose/lose muddle. In other homes, dessert has twice the sugar than desert.

Acronyms were also playful, such as Lucy Ewing, who knows Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move. While Pete Johns bellowed “Dash In A Rush (Run, Hurry!) Or Else Accident!” Embarrassing, weird, and perhaps the principal consequence of my mum’s nachos.

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