I’ve recently discovered the artificial language “Toki Pona” and I think it’s a great way to practice using memory techniques for a language. I’ve dabbled with the memory town system in the past for simple vocabulary in other languages, but I tried making a more formal and complete memory palace for Toki Pona since it has such a small vocabulary vocabulary. I ran into several problems:
- How to memorize words with multiple meanings?
Since TP has such a small vocabulary, most words have multiple meanings. For example “ilo” can mean “tool”, “machine”, “device”, or even “computer” in different contexts. I was able to remember this through repeated practice, but if I was having trouble how could I do this?
The above words are all semantically similar, but in other languages there are completely unrelated homonyms and homophones. In English “park” can mean a big grassy field (noun) or something you do with a car (verb). “Band” is a group that makes music or a loop of cloth. How do we deal with homonyms and homophones in memory palaces?
- How to memorize prepositions and other very abstract words?
If you search for “abstract” in the forums you find some mention of this, but usually with simpler abstract concepts like “fragile” or “cold”. I don’t have problems making up images for those. But what about these word meanings?
kepeken = “with”
sama = “as”
tan = “by” / “from” / “because”
tawa = “for” / “to”
Other very abstract meanings that are hard to come up with images for:
seme = “what”
ni = “this”/“that”
anu = “or”
I think meanings like this would be difficult to create images for in any language. How do you create imagery for your memory palace with the words in quotes above?
- How do you create links to short words in the foreign language?
Suppose I was making my memory palace alphabetically. The first word in Toki Pona is “a”, which is an emotional word applying emphasis. My mental image for this is an exclamation mark. But how do I make an image for “a” to tie to this to in a memory location?
Here’s another example - further in the memory palace I will have the foreign word “ko”. I guess I could imagine a “koala bear” or a “coke”, but “koala” sounds like it could be Toki Pona word so I worry that such a thing might confuse me.
- With a memory town, how to deal with words that have multiple parts of speech?
In a memory town, the idea is to put words in different areas (or different memory palaces) based on their part of speech. The examples given are usually masculine/feminine, but I think some use this for nouns/adverbs/adjectives also. In Toki Pona, many words are nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Would they get re-used in different parts of the town? Example:
“lawa” as noun means “head” or “mind”.
As a verb it means “to control/direct/guide/lead”
“Lawa” reminds me of “lawyer”. In an alphabetical palace, I am back to question #1 (how to deal with homonyms?). If I use a memory town, I could have a lawyer with a giant head in my “noun district” and a lawyer leading a tour group in my “verb district”. Is this common?
Thanks for bearing with me! To be honest, the vocabulary was so simple that I was able to memorize it using a very haphazard memory palace and random linking, but that’s because I’ve been obsessing over it for a few days. I think if I wanted to retain this over long periods with a more structured memory palace I would want to re-organize it, which lead me to the questions above. Thanks for any thoughts you have!