Checking the mnemonics?

Hi everyone! I’ve been trying to get used to the new iOS app, but there’s something that I haven’t figured out yet. :sweat_smile:

First, the mnemonics aren’t showing at all for me, which I assume is a bug and will be fixed in due time… but then, when I’m writing a character, I cannot find a way to access that character’s mnemonic without seeing the character written. The point of a mnemonic is to help us remember the character while we’re reviewing, so showing the character immediately without encouraging us to remember it through the mnemonic feels a bit like spoilers.

The old app does this perfectly, showing just the hint. The new one shows the hint, a sentence, plus a bunch of other things.

Am I doing something wrong? Is there a way of checking mnemonics on the new app without spoiling the character? Or do people use mnemonics in a different way and don’t mind the spoilers? :thinking:

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This is not meant to be a technical response to what can and can’t be done in the apps, but rather a pedagogical one.

Mnemonics are techniques used to make it easier to remember something, which can happen in various ways. If you don’t remember the mnemonic, it isn’t working and it’s not doing it’s job. Find another mnemonic.

If you remember how to write something after peeking at the mnemonic, that’s basically the same thing as having looked at the answer from a memory retention perspective. The question the writing card asks is “how do you write the character that means this and is pronounced like that?” and the answer to that question is “no” if you have to look anything up, definitely including the mnemonic.

Looking at the mnemonic and then writing answers a completely different question, namely “how do you write the character indicated by this mnemonic?” That’s a very artificial question and I would argue only useful in very limited cases, such as if you used flashcards to cement a peg system of some kind, i.e. if you arbitrarily connect some meaning to certain character components and need to study these connections. That’s not something supported in Skritter, though.

Now, I realise you probably have a good reason for wanting to do this, I’m just outlining that in general and for most people, there’s no real need for being able to look at the mnemonic, write the character and then reveal the full answer. Would you mind expanding a bit on your reasons for wanting to do this?

In my opinion, a mnemonic is not very good if you need to look it up and I would come up with a new one instead. Sometimes, it’s of course necessary to look them up in general to make sure they are consistent across many characters and words, but that’s unrelated to reviewing.

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We moved the mnemonics to the app info area for the pedagogical reasons listed above along with the fact that the extra tools you’d likely need to write a good mnemonic (meaning of individual characters in words and components) are all right there.

Also, opening the info drawer before a card has been graded will automatically mark it as wrong unless you manually change the grade after :slight_smile:

Thank you both for your replies! I think I was using mnemonics a little differently, perhaps because they were so easy to access in the old app: for me, they were hints in the right direction, a bit of nudging for my memory without going straight for the answer.

I realize now that perhaps I’ve been using them as a crutch of sorts… :flushed: I’ll try to rely less on them, going forward.

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Absolute disagreement with the official response, in pedagogical terms.

My mnemonic usage works very well for me and is part of the hint system I use for remembering the characters and words.

Sometimes I do forget the mnemonic. Just like sometimes I do forget characters learned long ago. In fact it happens for characters I learned long ago and usually know. This is the brain making room for new material; it makes mistakes, and relearning the mnemonic is the way to teach it not to forget it again. It does not mean the mnemonic is poor! What a ridiculous response!

That’s just for me, a long-time user. What about the new learner, who of course hasn’t fully mastered the mnemonic itself without encountering it over and over? You haven’t thought this through, or listened.

Please do as the legacy app does and this user and I need. Make sure mnemonic access does not reveal the character.

Please listen to your long-time customers who keep pointing out to you that the legacy app continues to be superior in many essential ways, despite acknowledgedly useful new features in the new app, which shockingly has neglected key basics.

If Skritter doesn’t respect what it has and what we need, it is going to lose long term customers.

(over five-year customer here, over 4000 characters, and a frequent contributor to your expanding database, you are welcome)

You haven’t been misusing mnemonics. The original developers of Skritter understood this need and how the brain works. The “pedagogical” argument these guys are giving you is inaccurate and discouraging for all the wrong reasons. See my response to them above.

It doesn’t mean better mnemonics can’t be built; I update mine from time to time as my understanding of the components of Chinese characters grows.

But great mnemonics can of course be forgotten. Your brain is “refreshed” with a peek and your ability to get the character the next time without forgetting the mnemonic is thus enhanced. This is an asset of legacy Skritter not a liability.

To the Skritter folks: listen to people. Listen to your customers. You still have a lot to learn in this regard and your communication efforts, as others have mentioned in other threads, leave a lot to be desired.

BTW, I have over 4000 characters and thus over 4000 mnemonics so of course my brain forgets one or the other or both from time to time, especially after a long time of not encountering them. Come on Skritter guys, give your weak “pedagogical” excuses a rest.

I think you’ll see better long-term results with overall recognition and retention if you take this approach!

If you’re interested in reading more about mnemonics, and handling mistakes/errors while studying, I would highly recommend these articles:

  1. Using mnemonics to learn Chinese part 1 & part 2 (Source: Skritter Blog)
  2. Trace your errors to the source (Source: Skritter blog)
  3. Using mnemonics to making Chinese easier (Source: Hacking Chinese)
  4. Don’t use mnemonics for everything (Source: Hacking Chinese)
    This one links to a ton of extra articles. All great reads, but get a big cup of coffee/tea first!

Can do! Although we highly recommend checking the vocab info screen for components and contained characters when writing new mnemonics. It’ll help in the long-term. We promise!


Mnemonics are a great source of fun in our household.

My favourite component is 隹 zhui 1 “the short-tailed bird” who gets into all sorts of difficulties 難 / 难 ,is terrified of claws tiny and big because it is only a chicken 雞 , who enters by walking 進 , when noisy under the grass is a heron 雚 ,who assembles on tree tops 集 ,who sells with his mouth 售 , who comes in sets of two 雙 , who is caught in gauze nets of silk 羅 ,who gets scorched and anxious over fire 焦 …

And so on.

Have fun everyone!


How is everyone else inputting mnemonics in the current app? Since most of my words are multi-character, I am finding it impossible to enter mnemonics for individual characters, since it is not available when reviewing the word. I find myself having to open a web browser, find the character, and enter the mnemonic, which means I have largely given up on using mnemonics since moving to the new app. It is the biggest barrier to using Skritter effectively that I currently have.

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Yeah… that does not sound fun :frowning:

Character drill down is still very much on the list of coming updates. Feeling like a broken record with that reply, but it is most certainly on the list.

When I’m dealing with a difficult multi-character word, I tend not to go the mnemonic route. More often, I find myself digging into extra example sentences on Pleco or on the web (still dreaming of the day I can add my own in the app!) and edit the word’s definition to something I’ve researched and written myself. Some of the synonym definitions are just too close, and I have to take a more radical approach to make sure things stick.

Could just be me, but I find that trying to hold two or more character level mnemonics in my brain for a word doesn’t do much good, although that is probably mostly just a result of years of grinding character writing in various ways.

Regardless, I’m super excited for the ability to view characters that make up a word (and their respective components) inside the app. Drilling into the details was one of favorite parts of studying on the web and the Skritter Chinese iOS app!

When I’m dealing with a difficult multi-character word, I tend not to go the mnemonic route.

I’m not trying to set menemonics for the multicharacter word, I need them for the individual characters. When studying new vocabulary from, say, a textbook, individual characters are very often introduced as part of a multicharacter word. Typically it is relatively easy to recall what characters are in the word. The need for mnemonics is to remember how to write the individual characters. Thus the need to quickly access mnemonics at the character level when viewing a word. Does that make sense? It is for remembering how to write the character itself.

Regarding character drill down, I’m not sure it will be efficient enough to have to drill down to get to individual character mnemonics. I fear that it would take several taps just to get to the
mnemonic for the current character you are reviewing, then edit and several taps to get back to the character. Better than nothing, but it may be a lot of effort to use, unless there is a shortcut to get to the current character’s mnemonic on the screen when reviewing.


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Yes. I understand. And, after looking at the Skritter Chinese app again I see exactly what you mean. The character level mnemonics are displayed for the individual characters, they’re not a global world-level mnemonic. Strangely, the app just shows the first character mnemonic for pinyin and definition cards, but I’m guessing those don’t get viewed very often. This is probably the first time I’ve noticed that if I’m honest.

Okay. Gonna take some notes on a few things, and see what we can do!

Yes I noticed that also. Another reason I haven’t switched to the new app, as I can’t access individual character mnemonics from a compound word anymore. The legacy app allows this, among many classic useful features that still don’t exist in the new app.

It’s not the word I forget, it’s one character in the word. But my mnemonic for the character in the new app doesn’t appear any more, only for the word.

I find mnemonics for words are a waste of time and space; I never use them, and don’t need them. Mnemonics for individual characters within words are necessary and I refer to them often enough to make their absence in the new app a real turn off.

Still waiting for the folks at Skritter to get all of the great legacy app features into the new app!

I might have missed something, but for me no mnemonics at all are shown on the info pane for the card. It always prompts me to add my own in.
In the legacy app the mnemonics are available for the same words.

Is this the actual current state of the app, or am I missing something here?

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This is the current state of the app. The popular mnemonics haven’t been added to the new app yet. If you have created your own custom mnemonics for words/characters, however, they will be displayed in the app.

We have plans on bundling the popular mnemonics with the app in a new way to reduce server calls, and we’ll also doing some screening of the mnemonics before rolling them out to replace or improve bad or offensive mnemonics before we deploy them.

Ok thanks for the swift clarification.

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I recently gave the new app yet another try out, but found I had to switch back to the legacy app again because mnemonics for individual characters are still not provided within words. Inability to access these while reviewing words is proving to be a major obstacle to study for me.

I understand you are working on making these accessible. Just wondering if there is any timeline for when this feature will be ready.

We’d like to have this into the new app in version 3.3.7. We’re working on some final things on our list for 3.3.6 at the moment, and once that is done we’ll be working getting mnemonics into the app on the study cards.

I don’t have a timeline estimate just yet, but it should be in the app early in 2020!

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That’s great news! Thanks

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Sorry for jumping onto this boat, but I wonder what is your 2020 timeline for allowing the checking of definitions of characters’ constituent parts (radicals etc. ) in the new app?
This is for me the reason I am sticking to the legacy app - need to be able to look up the meaning of radicals quickly, best in a hierarchical fashion down to the smallest particles. The old app allowed to dive into single character part definitions very quickly.

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