A Mnemonic for the 45th Parallel North made of Nonsense Syllables.

Every country, and every United States state and Canadian province on it.

Fa Taiv Ci Biuc Siur Bu Cuab Ra Caikz Ki

Ku Ca Mi Cu Ra Jai Hai Kai Tai Pi.

Oimws M to Nov.

“Oimws” is pronounced “oimus” so that the line has exactly five syllables, and so that “Oimws” sounds like an Irish given name (similar to “Seamus”), and (“M to Nov” i.e. “Emtonov”) like a Russian surname similar to “Molotov”.

It has to be “M to Nov”, and not “M to N” or “M to New”, because “N” or “New” could be misunderstood as meaning New Brunswick, or New York State, or even Newfoundland and Labrador, or *even* New Jersey or New Hampshire, all of whom have Atlantic coastlines.

The above mnemonic allows me to recall the zones cut by the 45th parallel, together with some information about the longitudes of some of the zones.

The mnemonic is actually one mnemonic for the eastern hemispere (the first two lines) that works according one set of rules, and another mnemonic for the western hemisphere (the third line) that works according to a different set of rules. It’s like this because I wanted a change by the time I had done the eastern hemisphere. I wanted to try out some other ideas new kinds of mnemonics.

Each line has ten syllables, except the last line, which has five.

The first two lines rhyme.

Here’s a list of the zones line by line:

France, Italy, the Gulf of Venice, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzogovina, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, the Black Sea, Crimea, the Black Sea, Russia, the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, China, Russia, the Sea of Japan, Hokkaido, the Sea of Okhotsk, Iturup Island, the Pacific Ocean.

Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota to Nova Scotia.

Expansion of “to” is “12” i.e. “One famous bay, two Great Lakes, three provinces of Canada, six United States states (n.b. 1 + 2 + 3 = 1 * 2 * 3 = 6)”:

the Bay of Fundy,

Lake Michigan, Lake Huron,

Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick,

Wisconsin, Michigan, New York State, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine.

Note that the three provinces of Canada all border the United States, and the six states of United States all border Canada except Wisconsin which is widely thought to, but technically doesn’t. Of the six states, the last four are all four of the last four states that border Canada. The first two both border Lake Michigan, Wisconsin on the west of it and Michigan on the east of it.

Here’s the mnemonic again:

Fa Taiv Ci Biuc Siur Bu Cuab Ra Caikz Ki

Ku Ca Mi Cu Ra Jai Hai Kai Tai Pi.

Oimws M to Nov.

“Fa” means France lies on the 45th parallel and on the prime meridian. The “F” of “Fa” is the earliest consonant of “France”. The “a” of “Fa” means France is cut by the prime meridian.

“Taiv” means Italy and the Gulf of Venice each lie on the 45th parallel and entirely between (without touching and n.b. it is only the parts of the zones that lie on the parallel that are considered by the algorithm, and so it matters not that another part of Italy to the south *is* cut by the 15th meridian) the prime meridian and the 15th meridian. The “T” of “Taiv” is the earliest consonant of “Italy” and the “v” of “Taiv” is the earliest consonant of “Venice”, which is the important word in “the Gulf of Venice”.

“Ci” means Croatia lies on the 45th parallel and on the 15th meridian east.

And so on to “Pi” which means that the Pacific Ocean lies on the 45th parallel and on the 150th meridian east.

“Cuab” means Crimea and the Black Sea. I didn’t want to use “Kuab” meaning Ukraine and the Black Sea, nor “Ruab” meaning Russia and the Black Sea, because that would be to get off the fence and take a side in a political conflict, which I don’t want to do. Likewise I used “Iturup Island” rather than “Japan” or “Russia” because Japan claims it while Russia is administering it.

Why does the “a” of “Fa” mean the prime meridian? Because each meridian that is a multiple of 15 degrees east is represented by a vowel, and 0 degrees east is represented by “a”. The mapping is:

0 = a, 0 > ai > 15, 15 = i, 15 > iu > 30, 30 = u, 30 > ua > 45,

45 = a, 45 > ai > 60, i = 60, and so on.

The mnemonic was constructed by moving along the 45th parallel in an eastwards direction and noting which zones were crossed by it. Thus I converted France to “f” and appended an “a” to make “Fa” capitalizing the initial letter of the new zone name. Then I converted Italy to “t” (because “t” is the first/earliest consonant in “Italy”) and then I converted the Gulf of Venice to “v” and inserted “ai” between them to make “Taiv”, capitalizing the initial letter of the name of the new composite zone comprised of Italy and the Gulf of Venice.

And so on all the way to “Pi”.

The mnemonic works for me. If it works for others, the lesson is that this is a good kind of mnemonic. If not, the lesson may be that it works well to create one’s own mnemonic with publication in mind.

It seems to work by exploiting that part of the brain that learns new vocabulary, whether foreign or native language.

“Fa Taiv Ci Biuc Siur” could be a five word foreign sentence. Repeated often enough it becomes as easy to recall as “Burkina Faso” or “Herzogovina” or “Yuri Andropov”.

It seems to work well partly because if at first I can’t recall the mnemonic, by recalling that France is on the prime meridian, I can deduce “Fa” and then with a bit of luck recall the rest of the mnemonic. Or I might recall that the intersection of the 45th parallel and the 90th meridian east is in China, very near the border with Mongolia, and deduce that China is “Ca” and Mongolia is “Mi” and thus recall “Ku Ca Mi Cu Ra”.

The way that the first two lines of the mnemonic works to represent those nations of the eastern hemisphere makes them representations of parts of the parallel, and thus a sort of notation, as well a mnemonic. Thus one could use “Taiv” as a new name for that zone that includes all of Italy and the Gulf of Venice, or for that line that includes all of Italy and the Gulf of Venice that lies on the 45th parallel. “I am in Taiv”, uses the first 2-D sense, and “I am about to walk across Taiv” or “ I am walking along Taiv” using the second 1-D sense.

A variation on the technique is to use the names of subdivisions of some or all of the zones. Thus instead of Ca for China, you could have Xa for Xinjiang because the intersection lies in Xinjiang. That way, as long as you can recall that Xinjiang is part of China, you get more out of the mnemonic because you have in effect packed more into it.

The alert reader will notice that I have ignored some of the cases where the 45th parallel goes in and out of a nation more than once. The mnemonic would become much longer if I encoded all those minor details, and so I chose to ride roughshod over some of them. Thus the mnemonic sometimes makes it look like a nation is cut only once when really it is cut several times in quick succession by the parallel.

I chose the 45th parallel because it is a memorable and important one, and an easy to visualize one, being halfway between the north pole and the equator, and an interesting one to know about because it shows how much further south the contiguous United States and the southern parts of Canada are than most people think. Who would guess that the southern tip of Nova Scotia is due west of Italy, for example? Likewise, it is surprising that that Japan is so far south that the northern tip of Japan is due east of Venice. It is remarkable that Oregon and South Dakota is due west of Maine.

It’s interesting to compare the climates of places on the same latitude, especially if the altitudes are the same.

So knowing the data recalled by the mnemonic can be very useful.

It would be easy to casually bring up the fact that you know all that data, whenever any of the zones get mentioned. E.g. if New York State, or the Niagara Falls gets mentioned, you *could* mention that the border that NYS shares with Canada runs along the 45th parallel (by design, though not precisely because of errors) and that so does the border shared by Wyoming and North Dakota (again, by design but not precisely).

And if your interlocutor doesn’t ask you how you know all this, you *could* tell him or her anyway, perhaps by saying, “You could know all this too, because I only know it because of an awesome mnemonic.”

Note that you can use the “Oimws M to Nov” line on its own if you (or your interlocutors) are only interested in North American geography. You could make it into a joke, by saying, “I know it because I know Oimus Emtonov (that’s how you would pronounce it). Do you know him? He’s an Irish Russian (American).”

Surprisingly, (the Gulf of) Venice, Nova Scotia and the northern tip of Japan are all cut by the 45th parallel.

My favorite activity is learning new things.