Tone "icons" standardized within Mems

Somewhere in my home I have a book on learning Chinese that has tons of mems for every word, and one of the standards they established was an aid to remember which tone was used. For example, any mem for a word that had a rising tone, would ALWAYS include the character of a fairy, who can fly UP. Any mem for a word with 4th tone, would include an angry dwarf - and they didn't have to always say over and over that the dwarf puts his foot DOWN in anger, because you would know, if there's a dwarf in the mem, it means that it's a 4th tone. Whether or not we want to use the same "icons" here, I do think that it would be a fabulous help if we could get people to understand the concept and perhaps we could all agree on a consistent character to represent the various tones. (and I have been looking all over to find that book, but I can't find it to be able to give you the name of it!!)

Posted by Jill348 6/16/12 , last update 7/7/12 (3 years ago)
  • To be clear, I'm not suggesting we make it mandatory, some people will want to create mems and not have to worry about including a fairy or a dwarf or whatever, but I've been meaning to propose this idea for quite some time because I think it's such a clever and simple way to increase the power of the great mems our members are already producing.

    Posted by Jill348 6/16/12 (4 years ago)
  • And I just remembered, the first tone was represented by the giant who is so tall, he is HIGH above everyone else. An interesting example of the power of the recall... I had forgotten what the first tone giant Icon was until I was writing the spelling mem suggestion, and suddenly giant came up and triggered this memory! :-D

    Posted by Jill348 6/16/12 (4 years ago)
  • It's Tuttle - Learning Chinese Characters - by Alison Matthews and Laurence Matthews.

    Posted by DarthJen 6/16/12 (4 years ago)
  • This is a really cool idea. I know that book well, and I did use it a bit a few years ago. I really liked the idea, but I found the long descriptions of the scenes quite an effort to imagine and eventually gave up on it, but I would love to implement that kind of idea on Memrise. Remembering which tone words are is one of the hardest parts of Chinese and we need to do more to help.

    I suspect that it would work really well if you could just fina a picture that illustrated the meaning, and then add the icon of the dwarf etc into it in a way that would make it super memorable. Once we have some good icons, that kind of mem would be really easy to make as well.

    I might ask one of the volunteer artists we have if they might be interested in drawing up some images that we could use. Then we could make those available on the site, and anyone who wanted to use them could download them and start dropping them into mems.

    So what images should we use? Alison and Laurence Matthews use these:

    1st tone - Giant (high, tall) 2nd tone - Fairy (rising, flying) 3rd tone - teddy 4th tone - Dwarf (low, also possibly a reputation for being angry? not sure)

    These seem ok, but I would prefer to add more texture to the images. These seem a bit sterile and that might lead to mems that are not as rich and unforgettable. So lets try to give each of the images a bit more personality. The more personality the icons have, the more amusing mems we can make, and the easier it is to make them; I think that we will start to get a feel for the kinds of funny things that each of the characters would do in given situations, which might help to make the mems make sense. Perhaps I am rambling.

    But how about these as a suggestion - and please do add your own ideas!

    1st tone - a singing giant. Perhaps a massive, tailcoat-wearing opera singing giant. Like Pavarotti, but MUCH bigger, and with a higher voice. He is always trilling out in a high 1st tone. He is also a bit of a charmer, a would-be ladies man.

    2nd tone - a specific fairy, tinkerbell. Tinkerbell was always very jealous of Peter Pan, and didn't like Wendy butting in on their friendship. This jealousy probably stemmed from poor Tink's insecurity. She is a feisty little fairy, but underneath that she is weak and worried. She questions everything and is never relaxed.

    3rd tone - not sure... I don't really get the Teddy bear image, and I don't have an idea for a particularly string Teddy character. I am happy to stick with the teddy if it helps other people though. Shall we make him Winnie the Pooh? Or Paddington? If we can build on personalities that we already have some familiarity with, then that will be useful

    4th tone - the angry dwarf seems like a good image. Again it would be best, I think, if it could be a specific dwarf, but I am not overly fussed about that.

    What do you think? I would be very keen to give this a try if other people are interested!

    best wishes and thanks for bringing this up,


    Posted by BenWhately Staff   6/19/12 (4 years ago)
  • Think this could be done with colors (but the color blind will complain....) or maybe just at mark in the corner, (superscript or subscript), mathematicians like those.

    Posted by eagletusk 7/5/12 (3 years ago)
  • The idea of using archetypes for mandarin seems nice on the surface. However, I wouldn't want it to be a standard. My objection is pretty simple - what if it limits someone when they want to create a mem? I mean, do they need to use a singing giant? What if a person is using a different system to learn the tones, i.e. color?
    However, if some group of people want to use this system, it would be nice if there were mems of this type available. That way, people could choose how and what archetypes they want to use (if any at all).

    Posted by DarthJen 7/6/12 (3 years ago)
  • @jennifferhunter, I completely agree with you -- my intent was not to make anyone feel that they must use the tone icons. I've added a few mems using the tone icons (easiest way to see them is by checking my profile to see the mems I've created), and I realized that since there are already other mems out there that have used fairies and giants, the only way the icons will really work is if we are clear that we are including them specifically to indicate the tone. That way, people are free to use them or not, and if someone really connects with one of these characters for something other than the tone, that's ok too.

    Posted by Jill348 7/7/12 (3 years ago)