Cultural mnemonics

Why? They’re great for whoever has the same cultural background and consumed the same media, but for the rest of us? Example: red, or aka.

“Think of Fozzie Bear. He says “Wakka wakka wakka” a lot. Now, think of an evil, red (and I mean totally red) Fozzie Bear. He drops the “w” and just says “Aka Aka Aka,” because he’s totally evil.”

I have no idea who this character is. This is almost entirely useless to me (the only reason I remember it is because I remember the frustration of having a ‘useless’ mnemonic and not being able to come up with anything useful myself. Also because the word is simple.)

It’s one thing to have a cultural reference to japanese culture (such as "わぎゅう beef ") because that’s what we’re learning. But having whatever culture the maker of the mnemonic be needed seems… wrong.

This is a complaint.

Hopefully there won’t be many more.

(I’d also like to complain about the Triceratops radical. I always need to look up the proper spelling of that word because I was never into dinosaurs and didn’t learn their english names.)


I’ve also never heard of that character. Also, his wikipedia page mentions that his catchphrase is “wocka wocka”, so the mnemonic doesn’t even work :confused:


You can always make your own. Like: red is the colour of blood. you have blood everywhere: ack ack ack, you find this disgusting!


in particular for something that’s just a spelling issue, i’d add synonyms (so, add a different word for triceratops).

there have been some mnemonics which refer to people or characters whom i’m utterly clueless about, but in those cases i just find workaround/make my own mnemonic ^^


I’m imagining you slowly pounding a bat into your hand.


Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue. Beautiful plumage, innit?


You’re allowed to make typos on meanings, you just need to be close enough (except on 3 letter or less words).


Yeah, they can be frustrating, but like people have said, you can make your own mnemonics. I mean, that’s literally what the “Reading Notes” and “Meaning Notes” sections are for.

Also, for me at least, the fact that I know almost nothing about these references makes them weirder, and ironically, stick better.

After all, strong emotional association is the best for remembering words, so you can use your frustration to your advantage! After awhile, you’ll probably find better ways to remember the kanji, the mnemonics are just to help solidify it


I want to affirm your feelings of frustration, @Risakisa It is frustrating to not have context to a reference, to feel suddenly on the outside of some in-group, and to wonder if the communicator ever even thought about people who might not understand the references.

although i’m sure the other commentors have good intentions in trying to solve a problem, i do not get the sense from your message that you were looking for a solution or advice.


yes 氷 seems to stick around as こおり for some reason, because I have no knowledge whatsoever about hockey, but i still remember his name. Also, it’s one of the few words that uses お to make a longer O sound

The two ways I would remember 氷 is either if you know of someone named Cory/Corey and can make a mnemonic through that. The other option is if you know/tried かき氷.

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I understand where this comes from, but here are probably the two reasons why:

  1. As someone else in this thread pointed out, having to make potentially over 10,000 mnemonics (all of the kanji and vocab can need 2 each (one for the meaning and one for the reading) is ludicrously difficult and you need to use every tool at your disposal to do so.
  2. Tofugu is an American company (I want to say they are based in Seattle?), so they may not see a lot of these as American culture, or use American culture as it is very handy for them.

Thought they’d removed most of the cultural references. It’s one of the reasons we’re now stuck with Farmer Jourm. So glad to see the end of “keds” for the けつ mnemonic. What on earth are “keds”?

Though, I notice Randy Savage is still around. Dunno who he is.


It makes a bit more sense in cultural context: it’s a puppet character, so most people hear it first. “Wocka-wocka” is a written interpretation of a nonsense word he says at the end of a joke. I’ve seen it written down as “wakka wakka” and would probably write it down that way from memory. People also write down Pac-Man’s famous sound as “wakka-wakka.”

By the way, I never realized The Muppets (which Fozzie Bear is from) was entirely an American thing. They’ve been around since the 1950’s here. I’d probably say very young kids wouldn’t know what they are nowadays, (except for Kermit the Frog maybe) but they’ve been a cultural icon for 60-some years now in America and their popularity isn’t really tied to anything America-specific, (other cultures like puppets, right??) so I’m surprised they weren’t as big in other cultures…but I guess stuff like “Asterix” and “Doraemon” is unheard of in America, so that’s just the way it goes.

I agree though that the pop culture mnemonics should be avoided for this very reason. Even if they’re famous worldwide, they inevitably date themselves over time and eventually need to be replaced.

He’s a famous pro wrestler – the type of famous that people here usually think of him when they think of famous wrestlers (alongside Hulk Hogan and John Cena). But yeah, same trap: very America specific…nobody watches American wrestling in Mexico or Japan when they have their own cool wrestling.


In a weird sort of way it kinda works though. The frustration I feel when I see that kind of mnemonics and think “how the heck am I supposed to remember that?!”, like a self-unfulfilling prophecy, lets me remember those well - if not the best among others.


I tend to trip up on accent-related ones. Particularly any word that involves かく the mnemonic will usually bring up a cockerel…but then because I’m not American I will type こく instead and get it wrong.


this is me with a good number of the mnemonics that include figures from modern day media and such. since i’m more into japanese and such, i couldn’t name you a figure popular in (american) pop culture except maybe for like…taylor swift and doja cat or something.

i’m glad to see i’m not the only struggling with these problems, whenever i come across mnemonics like this, they’re definitely harder for me to remember. i feel the mnemonics should be open to people that may not be familiar with pop culture icons. for me, personally, i feel that my progress would be just a smidge faster.

I’m guessing that character goes something like:
“Do you see anything we can use to catch this wild pidgey?”

“¡Muy bien! A pokeball! We can use that pokeball to catch the pidgey!”

…Yeah I think I’ll stick to Squirtle and Geoduck.

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If it makes you feel better, I am American and still mess these up because of the mnemonic since I am remembering how it is spelled.


I don’t mind the cultural references - although I’ll admit that they definitely aren’t strong mnemonics if you’ve never heard of them. I know Fozzie from the Muppet show, which I watched all the time as a kid, and Randy Savage, although I never knew he was an actual wrestler, has a cameo in the very first Spiderman movie (with Toby Maguire).

But there’s a repeated reference to a video game character (for りゅう) that I can’t do anything with, and I think there’s a Pokémon reference as well? looks it up Nope, it’s Dragonball apparently. Master Roshi? Had never heard of him before, and it makes it pretty hard to remember.
Splinter from TMNT would be another example - but at least that one I know again.

The few mnemonics that refer to unknowns offer me the opportunity to learn about other new stuff - even though I may have to make new mnemonics for those items myself. Having said that, some mnemonics have fairly obvious replacements (Like 赤 , the color also known as (a.k.a.) red.)