A new and improved version of my South America mnemonic and lesson and an easier puzzle.

It’s a better, easier puzzle now.

When the order is used as puzzle to be explained, it is now an easier puzzle.

The answer (an awesome mnemonic IMHO):

The primary principle and the original inspiration for the mnemonic is the memorable relation of the major meridians and parallels (those that are multiples of 15 degrees and visible on the map provided) that cut South America to the borders of the first eleven countries in the list. Besides that, there is the way that the first nine countries in the list form an unbroken chain.

Other regularities in the list.

There is an imperfect but nevertheless memorable pattern in the magnitude of the area of the each nation in the list. That this could be used as part of the mnemonic was only noticed after the first version had been finished. It is purely fortuitous but still very useful.

Miscellaneous thoughts on the list and the map of South America.

This should probably be in an appendix because it seems to distract from the list, especially once Peru and Uruguay are digressed from. In my imagination, and maybe yours now, Peru is like a huge boot that points to a football. Note the ‘ooh’ sounds in ‘huge’, ‘boot’, and ‘football’. By the way, doesn’t it look like the football is getting kicked by an even bigger boot, Brazil? And the two boots seem to both tied together by their laces and draped the one locker room peg, don’t they. The peg might be Bolivia, one of the two countries to border both boots. Or are the boots hanging from Colombia, the other nation to border both boots. Colombia and Bolivia are #1 and #10. The difference between them is zero, ha ha. Their names are just a few letter changes away from each other. They are incredibly similar in size and shape. Colombia is named after Columbus and Bolivia is named after Bolivar. I wonder why I find this activity so compulsive? Let me know in the comments how interesting or otherwise these stream of consciousness thoughts are.

Why the second version is better than the first.

The order of the nations in the first version is which is not too bad except for the numbering:

Why is Ecuador not the ‘zeroth’ country in the list?

Some readers may wonder why I didn’t give ‘number zero’ to Equador. The reason is that I think it would be a controversial thing to do, and I am myself very much worried by what happens to the other numbers if zero is thought of as the first number. Is one then the second number? And is two the third number?

Other stuff.

To fix in the student’s mind that Colombia is first in the list, how about merging ‘one’ and ‘Colombia’ thus: Onelombia, 1lombia, Colombione, or Colombi1? And likewise with all the rest, up to Thirteendor, 13dor, Ecthirteen, or Ec13? By referring to the nations by these names some of the time, the student will learn by osmosis the number of each nation, and nation of each number.

Additional coincidences in South America related to the 60th meridian.

This meridian as mentioned cuts Bolivia and Paraguay in a fairly remarkable way, seeming to stitch them together. It does the same thing but even more remarkably with Venezuela and Guyana just touching the eastern and western tips respectively. And see how after Bolivia and Paraguay it passes through Argentina, while after Venezuela and Guyana it passes in remarkably similar fashion through Brazil. These coincidences don’t get highlighted as much as they could have been in the mnemonic because it seemed to me more important to keep Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and France consecutive in the list. Bolivia and Paraguay are not of great interest to most people, because they have not heard of them, perhaps because those two nations are landlocked. I did consider having Bolivia follow Venezuela, but decided against it for the above reasons.

What about the 45th meridian?

The 45th meridian is very roughly where the east coast of South America could be said to be. But the east coast is hard to pin down. I am mentioning the 45the meridian because it should be the opposite number of the 75th meridian. Also, it a very important meridian simply due to the fact that it is one eighth of the way around the earth from the prime meridian.

“The doth root of yell.”

The word ‘doth’ is one I coined on the model of ‘eighth’, ‘nth’ and so on. It is pronounced ‘dot-th’ just as ‘eighth’ is pronounced ‘eight-th’.

‘France’ is lot easier and is at least as good as ‘French Guiana/Guyane”.

“Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana” is very hard to learn. Since French Guiana is actually an integral part of France, we can instead commit to memory “Guyana, Suriname, France”. Much easier to say and spell. Much more interesting and therefore, memorable and thought provoking. This also gets rid of (postpones) the nagging question of whether to call it ‘Guyane’ or ‘French Guiana’. It’s really interesting that part of France is in South America. The European Space Agency launches its rockets into orbit from here because this part of France (and therefore of the EU) is so near the equator. This means that the ESA launches its rockets from France. It’s all the more interesting because so few people think about this, or even know it. Then ‘9. France’ could become ‘9nce’ or ‘9ce’ or ‘Ninence’ or ‘Ninece’ with all three rhyming with ‘pints’.

A hidden mnemonic and a separate additional mnemonic.

Just as a joke can be hidden, so can a mnemonic. It’s in effect a hidden meaning.

A slogan or two to promote attention to parallels and meridians.

‘Make friends with meridians.’ ‘Pal up with parallels.’

How the South America mnemonic promotes numeracy.

Contemplating meridians and parallels is good for numeracy. So is merely using a numbered list. The groups of three are especially good for building numeracy. It isn’t immediately obvious how many numbers are in the range 4 to 6. Some will think it is two. It is good for numeracy to overlearn that 4 to 6 has three members, and likewise with the other subgroups. This will make students more numerate, and especially will make them better at avoiding the well-known ‘off-by-one error’. (‘OB1’, anyone?)

More stuff.

Suriname appears to be due north of Uruguay, with Uruguay due south of 7,8,9.



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Matthew Christopher Bartsh

Matthew Christopher Bartsh

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