A Third New Kind of Mnemonic for the Eight (Nine?) Planets of the Solar System.

M VEM J SUN (P) is an acronym/ acronymic phrase which is constrained to have exactly five syllables.

It’s similar to the famous ROY G BIV except that it is constrained to be a pentasyllable, making it easier to recall, other things being equal.

Variants: M Vem J Sun (P); M Vem, J Sun (P); M-Vem-J Sun-(P); M-Vem J-sun (P), M Vem J Sun (P?) which also have exactly five syllables.

This is my favorite mnemonic for the solar system because, for one thing,it sits on the fence nicely regarding whether Pluto is still a planet. For another, it dovetails nicely with the common idea that there is a (relatively) compact inner system of four small, close together, rocky planets and a sprawling outer system of four large, widely spaced, “gas giants”.

Pluto is represented by a P in parentheses, meaning that it is still pronounced, and not forgotten, but is under a cloud, and may or not belong in the list, but is included for completeness. It works well to have Pluto in parantheses, so to speak, because that prevents it from spoiling the neat symmetry of four rocky midgets, four gaseous giants.

Thus a middle path is steered between the two unpleasant options: 1. Go along quietly with that undemocratic and, frankly, offensive claim that authority has decreed that Pluto is no longer a planet and therefore we must all tow the line. 2. Ignore the order from on high completely and therefore look like an ignoramus or a contrarian.

The variant M-Vem-J Sun-(P) is structured like that to emphasize the symmetry of M VEM J, with the earth at the center. It’s an alternative to the idea of the neat four bits of gravel and four basketballs (and Pluto, a dubious grain of sand or something, but still loved as the “original outermost planet”).

What to call this type of mnemonic?

What to call this kind of mnemonic? How about “syllabically constrained acronym”? Or “acronymic n-syllable”? In this case the mnemonic fits into my large collection of acronymic pentasyllables.

Sometimes I constrain myself to always use the first consonant rather than the first letter, as I did with my mnemonic for the traditional counties of Leinster Province (of Ireland) interposing vowels freely to make syllables:

LiMeD (WoW!) CoKe LaKe FoWL, which stands for (Counties):

Louth, Meath, Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Laoise, Kildare, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford.

Note that FoWL stands for FWL, i.e. Offaly, Westmeath, Longford. The lowercase ‘o’ of FoWL is padding. It is the F of Fowl that stands for Offaly, being the first consonant in it.

What to call *this* type of mnemonic? How about, “ padded pseudoacronymic constrained polysyllables”?

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

My favorite activity is learning new things.