Saturday, August 15, 2009

Remembering Given (First) Names

Doctor Bob from The Muppets - my key image for people named Bob

Nowadays it is more common to be dealing with people on a first name basis. The memory books by Harry Lorayne which have been my main reference on memory skills emphasise surnames.

Usually I don't have a problem remembering surnames because they are fairly unique. My big challenge is when I am introduced to a group of people with popular names. Men named Bob, Chris, David, Mike, Rick, Dan, Tony, Terry and Jack. Women named Sue, Julie, June, Sharon, Debbie and Amanda. I know many people with these names, and I find it hard to make the names unique.

There are several techniques for remembering given names, and I will describe two of these methods.

1. Asssociate with someone with the same name

The first method is to picture someone you know well with the same name, then associate that person with the person you are meeting. For example, you could be introduced to a fellow named George. You identify a distinguishing feature of George's face then associate that with George Bush.

A variation on this technique is to imagine the new person doing something associated with the person who shares the same name. For example, there is a fellow at my office named Bob. I have given him the name Doctor Bob after the character in Sesame Street. Nicknames can be useful for remembering names but fraught with danger which I will write about later.

2. Substitute words

The second method for remembering first names is to use a substitute word. These are generally easy to find, for example Harry could be "hairy", Clark could be "clock", Anne is "Ant" and Cate could be a cat.

Eventually you will develop your own collection of substitute words for firstnames - a personal memory dictionary of first names. It is important that the substitute word has meaning for you.
Two popular writers on memory, Benjamin Levy and Kevin Trudeau have supplied lists of substitute words for names which can be used and modified.

Examples of boy's names

Adam - Fig leaf
Alan - Lion
Andrew - Android
Bill - Duck's Bill
Bob - Bobsled
Brian - Brain
Bruce - Bruise
Cameron - Camera
Charles - Chairs
Chris - Christ on the cross
Daniel - Dancer, Dam
Dave - Dive, Diver
David - Star of David
Dennis - Dentist (holding the drill and mirro)
Derek - Derrick (large crane)
Donald - Donald Duck
Douglas - Shovel
Ed - Horse (Mr Ed)
Elliott - Eel Yacht
Eric - Ear-ache
Eugene - Ewe (sheep) wearing jeans
Frank - Frankfurt / Hotdog

Examples of Girl's names

Abigail - Bee in a pail (bucket)
Adeline - A Dandelion
Alice - Lice
Amanda - A man with a panda
Angela - Angel with wings
Anita - Ant-eater
Ann - Ant
Annabel - Ants on a bell
Barbara - Barbed wire
Belinda - Bell in a Window
Claire - Chocolate Eclair
Clara - Clarinet
Claudia - Cloud
Sacha - Red sash tied around the waist

My short-term project is to compile my lists of substitute words for my lists of frequently encountered names. I will publish this when it is complete. I encourage you to think of your own substitute words and write these in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I remember the sesame street BTW what is the name of those puppets?

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