Easily Recall the Fifty States and Nine Divisions of the United States and the Thirteen Subdivisions of Canada using a “Perfect Pentasyllables” Mnemonic.
A New Mnemonic with Several Innovative Features.
Easy to understand version of the mnemonic (explanation and map below) note that each line is constrained to contain exactly five syllables:
WOC AN TL MA Flor’
WOC AN TL MAT Kent’
WOC AN Tl A Ok’
WOC AN CUN IM Wy’
WOC H Alaska
MIM I IO P Newj’ (IO is pronounced “yo”)
MIM I IO M Wisc’
MIM K N S North’
MoNoMeR Conn’ (V)
..(.) (pronounced “dot dot bra dot ket”)
DiM VaNS G Flor’ (WooD)
BAS MOQ N Nova’
YNN N Princeedward’
What is recalled by the mnemonic at each stage of its recitation.
WOC AN TL MA Flor’: Washington, Oregon, and California are in Division Nine. Arizona and New Mexico are in Division Eight. Texas and Louisiana are in Division Seven. Mississippi and Alabama are in Division Six. Florida is in Division Five. It is one extremely long chain (in that order, of course). It is shaped roughly like an “L” with an extended foot.
WOC AN TL MAT Kent’: Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky form (as is the case thoughout the mnemonic, a chain in that order that is) Division Six.
WOC AN TL A Ok’: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma form Division Seven. TL form the southern row, while A and Ok’ form the northern row.
WOC AN CUN IM Wy’: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming form Division Eight. AN: southern row. CUN: middle row. IM northern row. Wy’ is “squashed” in between the northern and middle rows.
WOC H Alaska: Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, and Alaska form Division Nine. WOC is the eastern column, while H and Alaska are the western column.
MIM I IO P Newj’ (recall that IO is pronounced “yo”): Minnesota, Iowa, and Missiouri are the eastern column of Division Four. Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio are the southern row of Division Three, while Pennsylvania and New Jersey are the southern row of Division Two. It is one long chain, very straight except for a single right angle, like an “L” with an extended foot.
MIM I IO M Wisc’: Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio are the southern row of Division Three, and Michigan and Wisconsin are the northern row.
MIM K N S North’: Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri are the eastern column of Division Four, while Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota are its western column.
MoNoMeR Conn’ (V): Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut form in that order the coast of Division One. Vermont is the landlocked State. The three lines of the mnemonic, corresponding to the three divisions on the east coast of the United States, including this one, work according to a slightly modified system, which is necessary because none of the states start with a vowel. Without vowels, syllables (except for letters pronounced as letters — not very memorable) are not possible. So these three use two additional principles. The first is that lowercase vowels can be added as padding, carrying no meaning but allowing the consonants to me combined in syllable. MoNoMeR could be MaNeMiRou wher a, e, i, o, and u are added instead, for example. The second principle is while Conn’ is still the last in the chain, the chain is only for the coastal States. Landlocked States if any, are left over, and are added on at the end in parentheses following the same system as the stuff before Conn’, so in this case “V”.
..(.) (pronounced “dot dot bra dot ket”): New York (State) and New Jersey form in that order the coast of Division Two. Pennsylvania is the landlocked State. You need to use ordinary memory to recall New York State. Not difficult since it’s hard to think of New Jersey without recalling that it is effectively part of New York City which is, of course, in New York State. It was tempting to not bother with a mnemonic line at all for Division Two, but in the end I decided to include this charming runt of a line for the sake of completeness.
DiM VaNS G Flor’ (WooD): Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida are the coast of Division Five. West Virginia and D.C are the landlocked zones (one State and one District, respectively).
BAS MOQ N Nova’: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia are the southern row of Provinces of Canada. They all share a border with the contiguous US except the last one, Nova Scotia, which almost does (the Bay of Fundy is the separator). Sometime written “Basmoq N Nova” so it looks like a name.
YNN N Princeedward’: Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island form the northern row. All except the last one, Prince Edward Island extend into the Arctic. YNN are the three Territories of Canada, while N and Princeedward’ are Provinces.
If you don’t understand something in this article, scroll down to the section called “Discussion and Explanation”.
The Regions and Divisions referred to in this article are those defined by the United States Census Bureau. Wikipedia says:
Since 1950, the United States Census Bureau defines four statistical regions, with nine divisions. The Census Bureau region definition is “widely used … for data collection and analysis”, and is the most commonly used classification system.
Please note that the familiar four Regions of the United States: The West, the Midwest, the South, and the Northeast are composed of exactly two or three of the Nine Divisions. Thus the West (AKA the Western United States) is composed of Division Nine and Division Eight, also known as the Pacific Division and the Mountain Division, respectively. So, to know what Division a State allows you to deduce the Region it is in. See this Wikipedia article for details. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_regions_of_the_United_States.
The United States.
This Wikipedia article has a good list (and an innovative map that is extremely clear) of the subdivisions of the United States that this article is concerned with: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_regions_of_the_United_States.
Scroll down in the Wikipedia article to where it says: “Census Bureau-designated regions and divisions”.
Here’s the map:
File:Census Regions and Division of the United States.svg - Wikipedia
786 × 600 pixels. 315 × 240 pixels | 629 × 480 pixels | 1,006 × 768 pixels | 1,280 × 977 pixels | 2,560 × 1,954 pixels…
Recalling the Divisions via clues.
As a bonus, you get an unbroken and fairly straight chain of all the States on the west coast and the southern border and Gulf coast from Washington to Florida, and another unbroken and fairly straight chain of States stretching from Minnesota to New Jersey. By fairly straight chains, I mean each chain is straight except for a single right angle, roughly speaking. These two chains are the ones that give sufficient clues to the whereabouts of the nine Divisions of the United States that they can be used on their own to find the borders of the Divisions on a map that shows only the States.
Note that TL is pronounced like the second syllable of “mantle” and IO is pronounced like first syllable of “Yoga” so that the line is five syllables long.
WOC AN TL MA Flor’.
MIM I IO P NewJ’.
Recalling All Fifty States and the Nine Divisions precisely.
The eight lines below recall the most of the States in the nine divisions in isolation, without recalling the arrangement of the divisions within the United States. Also, these lines are not constrained to be five syllables long. Useful for thinking about a division in isolation.
Division 9: WOC H Alaska.
Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Alaska.
Division 8: AN CUN IM Wy’.
Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming.
Division 7: TL A Ok’ (TL is pronounced like the second syllable of “gentle”).
Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma.
Division 6: MAT Kent’.
Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky.
Division 5: [See below].
Division 4: MIM K N S NorthD’.
Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota.
Division 3: I IO M Wisc’ (IO is pronounce “yo”).
Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin.
Division 2: [See below].
Division 1: [See below].
Here’s a map of Canada showing the ten Provinces and three Territories.
File:Political map of Canada.svg — Wikipedia
736 × 599 pixels. 295 × 240 pixels | 590 × 480 pixels | 737 × 600 pixels | 943 × 768 pixels | 1,258 × 1,024 pixels |…
The mnemonic for Canada: two pentasyllables.
By dividing Canada in an arbitrary but memorable way I way able to get all the Territories and Provinces into two interesting pentasyllables.
The northern row: YNN N PrinceEdward’. (Pronounced “in ’n’ prince edward”).
Yukon (a Territory), Northwest Territories (a Territory), Nunavut (a Territory), Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island. The first three are the three Territories of Canada. I made them into one word so that “Ynn” (which rhymes with “Lynne”) would recall all three Territories. All of them except the last one, Prince Edward Island, have at least part of their (mainland) land in the Arctic, meaning north of the Sixtieth Parallel North.
The southern row: BAS MOQ N Nova (or BASM OQ N Nov or BASM O Q N Nov which can all be looked at as pentasyllables, including in French).
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia. All of them except the last one, Nova Scotia, have a land border with the US. Although Nova Scotia does not share a land border with the United states, southern Nova Scotia is just across the Bay of Fundy from eastern Maine.
Discussion and Explanation.
- Groups of five nonsense acronym syllables are easily learned, by rote, or by using other mnemonics, just like foreign names can be. Once mastered, they will be as easy to use as foreign names or words that we are familiar with. Whatever method works well with learning foreign vocabulary will work well here. That might include using overlearning, and systematic reviewing (perhaps BYKI or ANKI software). Knowing that they are exactly five syllables long makes it easy to count them off on the fingers of one hand, or mentally, and thus check that none have been overlooked. Another memory technique that can be used is to put an English (or other language) interpretation onto the nonsense. For example, “WOC AN TL MA Flor” can be interpreted as “Wok Anne till Ma Floor’” which could be imagined to mean that we will have to put up with Anne( who is known for hitting everyone with a wok, and hence as “Wok Anne”) until the arrival of Ma Floor ( a female gangster, similar to the “Ma Baker” of the Boney M hit song, who is known for yelling “Floor!” before opening fire, and hence as “Ma Floor”). Likewise, “MIM I IO P Newj” can be imagined to be “Mim, I — Yo! P Newj!”, where “Mim” is short for “Miriam”, and P. Newj is the name of a male acquaintance. Thus one fails to complete what one is saying to Mim (perhaps, “Mim, I need to find P. Newj.” was what one was about to say), as one quickly calls out to P Newj. Likewise WOC AN TL MAT Kent’ can be interpreted as “Wok Anne till ‘mat’ Kent”, meaning we need to put up with ‘Wok’ Anne until ‘mat’ Kent arrives. He is called that because his habit is to yell “Mat!” before opening fire. He is a gangster like Ma ‘floor’. Likewise WOC AN TL A Ok’ could be interpreted as “We need to put up with ‘wok’ Anne until a (i.e. an) oak tree arrives”. WOC AN CUN IM Wy’ could be interpreted as meaning something, perhaps, but I haven’t been able to come up with anything yet. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with learning WOC AN CUN IM Wy’ by rote, a task made much easier by the fact that it is constrained to be a pentasyllable. Likewise “MoNoMeR Conn’ (V) ..(.) DiM VaNS G Flor’ (Wood)” can be thought of “Monomer con v. dim vans G floor wood” meaning one has a choice between a confidence trick involving a monomer and the wood stored on the ground floor that was delivered by dimly lit vans.
- Zones on a map should be memorized as one or more contiguous chains, so that one learns where each zone is.
- Using the initial letter of a zone is better than using another word that starts with that initial letter, because the former is closer to the original, and simpler, and easier to visualize. Thus “ROY G BIV” is superior to “Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain.”
- In order to make the lines of the mnemonic exactly five syllables long (pentasyllabic), extra syllables were obtained from the name of the final State in the line, where necessary. Thus MIM I IOM Wiscons’ is in a Procrustean fashion made to be a pentasyllable. “MIM I IOM W” or “MIM I IOM Wisconsin” would each be six syllables (too many), and MIM I IOM Wisc’ would be four syllables (too few). A single rule is used across the board, which is that as many letters as possible are taken from the beginning of the last State in the line up to the point where the line would exceed five syllables. Whitespace is always deleted.
- In order to indicate the Divisions of the United States, similarly Procrustean actions are taken with the syllables. Thus, because MIM (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri) lies in Division four and the rest don’t, MIM is used as a syllable. “MI MI I OM Wisc’” would be easier to pronounce, and therefore to learn, but it would break my unbroken pattern where no syllable ever straddles a Divisional border, and is therefore out of the question.
- Like the tentacles of an octopus, the chains of contiguous States go down and then sideways and then (sometimes) up. Like the roots of a tree, the chains have side branches. The side branches have fewer than five syllables, but if you start at the beginning it always adds up to exactly five syllables. For example, WOC H Alaska (Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Alaska, which comprise Division 9), WOC AN CUN IM Wy’ (Washington, Oregon, California of Division 9, and then all the States in Division 8: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming), WOC AN TL A Ok’ (you can figure this out now), WOC AN TL MAT Kent’(you can figure this one out too), all are perfect pentasyllables.
- The famous MIMAL mnemonic (I see it as a mnemonic) was to be respected if possible. Fortunately, it was possible, and in fact my mnemonic dovetails beautifully with MIMAL, and complements it. Thus the MIM of MIM I IOM Wiscons’ is the MIM of MIMAL: Hat, Face, Shirt, AKA Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri.
- Quite a bit of work was involved in getting the mnemonic to this level of internal consistency. There was also an element of good luck. Had a Division had too many States in it, or not the right mix of consonants and vowels in it, or too many doubleyoos (just one is three syllables) in it, it would have made it impossible to cover them with just five syllables. Fortunately this was never the case. There were many such cases of good fortune. It is my hope that others will emulate my willingness to put in a lot of work to craft high quality mnemonics that are then used (hopefully) by many people, making it all worthwhile. I envisage a sort of engineering or artistic approach to mnemonic construction.
- Most existing mnemonics seem to have optimized for ease of making, and ease of learning. I propose we have a new kind of mnemonic that is very carefully crafted/developed over a long time (like this one, which I’ve worked on/played around with for years), and is optimized for ease of use once mastered. Again, “ROY G BIV” is superior to “Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain”, although it may take quite a bit of repetition to make the former stick.
- As much knowledge as possible should be crammed into the mnemonic. Thus ROY G BIV gives the seven colors of the traditional rainbow, while initials of Roy G Biv himself, RGB (I was first to notice this) gives the light primaries (red, green, blue). Similarly, the US mnemonic here recalls not only the fifty States and some information about the whereabouts of those States relative to the other States, and the international borders of US, but also tell you precisely which Division of the US each of the fifty States is in.
- The mnemonic only provides the initial letter of each State, and so there remains the task of recalling the name of the State given that the initial and its location and Division have been recalled using the mnemonic. Easy enough with C for California. Not so easy with I for Illinois. One could use a familiar type of mnemonic like “I am ill” to recall this, or just learn it by rote. Or you could learn the three confusing States that begin with “I” with one mnemonic: “Iowa Ill’ Ind’”, (five syllables calling to mind “I owe a ill ind” where “ind” means a maker of independent movies and “a” means “an”. You have exactly the same task with the two M’s of “MIMAL”.
- One could encode additional information in the choice the padding vowel. If Delaware and Maryland had something in common, like both being cut by a particular parallel (line of latitude), one could indicate that by a vowel or permutation of vowels that stood for that parallel. Then DiM might be DaM, DeM, DiM, DoM, Dum, Daem, Daim, Daom, etc.
- One way to sneak the mnemonic into the student’s brain might be to call the Divisions by the corresponding acronyms. Thus instead of saying “(Division) Nine”, or “(the) Pacific (Division)”, one could say, “(the) WOC H Alaska (Division)”.
- I’ve stuck to one format throughout for clarity. But, others are fine. Thus instead of AN CUN IM Wy’, it could be An Cun Im Wy’, ancunimWy’, ANCUNIMWy’, ancunimwy, and so on. The important thing is to pronounce it correctly, with four syllables.
- If you forget all or part of the mnemonic, it is easy to reconstruct it by looking at a map of the United States.
- The mnemonic can be used to fill in the initials of the States on a blank map of the United States. It can also be used, after some practice, to draw a map of the United States on a blank sheet of paper, an more impressive and useful ability.
- Two types of pentasyllable are used. All the Divisions except 1, 2, and 5 have enough vowels that syllables can be found in the initial letters. 1, 2, and 5 do not have enough initial vowels. In fact they have none. These three Divisions are thus dealt with a second kind of pentasyllable, one made of the the initial consonants and arbitrary vowels inserted between them to make syllables. Because any vowel can be inserted, it is easy to make real words rather than nonsense syllables, and that is what we see with these pentasyllabic phrases. This second kind of pentasyllable has an additional feature due to the fact that in each of these three Divisions, exactly one state does not touch the ocean, while all the others form a neat row along the coast. Thus the rule with these three is that the last State in the row (the the southernmost state) is written as the last State, i.e. not represented merely by its initial letter but by the entire first syllable, and the landlocked zone or zones, whether a State, or a State and the District of Columbia, is/are represented by its/their initials with padding vowels as needed. In Division One, this is just “V” for Vermont. In Division Five, this is “WooD” for West Virginia and D.C. while Division Two is too small to be made into an efficient pentasyllable, because it contains only three States: New York, New Jersey, and (landlocked) Pennsylvania. So these three don’t get a proper pentasyllable.
- The mnemonic is modular, meaning it is easy use only one or more parts of it. For example, if you are only interested in the states on one coast, you could learn only “WOC AN TL MA Flor’”(using ordinary memory to recall that only “AN” (Arizona and New Mexico) are landlocked, and “MoNoMeR Conn’ (V) ..(.) DiM VaNS G Flor’ (Wood)” understanding that the landlocked ones are V for Vermont, dot for Pennsylvania, W for West Virginia, and D for D.C. Likewise, if you only want to know about the West, ou can learn only “WOC H Alaska” (Division Nine also known as “Pacific Division”) and “WOC AN CUN IM Wy’” (subtracting WOC gives you Division Eight also known as “Mountain Division”.) Likewise, if you are only interested in Division Six, you can learn only “MAT Kent’” meaning, of course, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
- One good way of using the mnemonics is, when you have nothing to do, go over one or more pentasyllables in your mind, picturing the path across the map of the US, and recalling the full names of each State. Thus you might say to yourself, out loud or under your breath, “Woc H Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Alaska”. Or you might wait until you hear or read something that mentions one of those States, and then go over the full list that contains it, thus reminding yourself exactly where the State is, and also all the other States in the same Division.
- If you find ROY G BIV memorable, it might be because it is in the form of the typical name, with a first, middle, and last name. If that is the case, maybe making the pentasyllables into names like that would help. So here is a variant on the mnemonic (pronunciation is the same as ever, i.e. five syllyables per name) that I just thought of. Wocan Tl Maflor, Wocan Tl Matkent, Wocan Tl Aok, Wocan Cun Imwy, Woc H Alaska, Mim I-io Pnewj, Mim I-io M-Wisc, Mim-K N S-North, Basmoq N Nova, Ynn N Princeedward. Furthermore, those “names” can also be thought of as phrases with a major word at each end and a small connecting word in the middle. “N” can thought of as meaning “and”, and so “Basmoq N Nova” means “Basmoq and Nova”. Likewise “Tl” can be interpreted as “till” and thus “Wocan Tl Matkent” becomes “Wocan till Matkent”. Similarly for the rest. “Wocan Cun Imwy” can be understood as “Wocan can Imwy” with an imaginary verb “to imwy” that lacks a meaning, but one can easily made up. Same with I-io.
- The idea is to memorize those pentasyllables, and not just study them. Not necessarily all at the same time. It might be one at a time. That would probably be best in fact.
After that one learns to “fold” the chain, like a protein, so that it , or it’s end part, forms the correctly “shaped” Division, in the mind’s eye, or on paper. You also need to learn to recall the names of the States from the initials. I am not sure whether this should come before, or after, or at the same time as learning the folding.
Of course, most Americans already are familiar with the names of all the States, or most of them at least, having heard them all mentioned, if only on the radio, at least once a year, on average, probably, for their whole lives, even if some think Alaska or even Wyoming is another country. I remember that scene in Dog Day Afternoon (a movie I enjoyed) where one of the bank robbers suggests they might fly (from the US) to another country, and asks him what country might be good. “Wyoming” answers the other. Only a movie but somewhat believable. But they both knew the name, which it my point. Thus seeing Wy’ will likely be enough to recall “Wyoming”. Knowing the M borders Wyoming, and I borders M will likely recall Montana and Idaho, which can then be deduced to be in Division 8 (also known as “Mountain”) and therefore in the Region known as the West or the Western United States.
The challenge for most Americans is to place the States correctly relative to the other states and to be able to say what region and Division it is in. Thus “WOC AN CUN IM Wy’”, folded correctly, tells you where those States are. Woc in D9 and the rest in D8. Even better, the AN, CUN, and IM States are the lower, middle, and top rows respectively within D8. Wy (Wyoming) sort of is squeezed in at the eastern end of the crack between the top row and the middle row, or at least that’s how I think of it, and it recalls the position accurately enough.
- Setting easily attained goals is I think a good idea, and the desire to brag about one’s new knowledge of the USA is also good, as long as it is kept reasonably under control.
So here are some intermediate bragging goals that my mnemonic can be used to easily attain.
a)“I can name all the States in the Pacific Division.”
b) “I can name all the States in the West.”
c) “I can name all the States in the West and Midwest.”
d) “I can name all the States on the East Coast in order from Maine to Florida.”
e) “ I can name all the States in the USA and say what Division and Region they are in.”
f) “You name any State and I’ll name at least one State it shares a border with, and tell you the Division and Region that each of the two States is in.” This is easier than it sounds, since the State you recall will almost always be in the same Division and Region as the state named by your interlocutor. Normally you will be able to name at least two States that it borders on, the one before, and the one after in the folded chain. For example if your interlocutor says “Oregon”, you say “Washington and California, which are, like Oregon, in Division 9, also known as the Pacific Division, in the Western United States”, using WOC of WOC AN TL MA Flor’, or of WOC H Alaska.
g) “You name any State and I’ll prove I know where it is by naming at least two States it shares a border with and tell which Division and Region each one is in.
To make sure you always can always answer this, you need to make an extra effort to learn about the States at the ends of the lines. You see, if the person says “Oregon”, because O is flanked by W an C it’s easy to answer, as explained above. But what if the interlocutor says, “Washington”? WOC only tells you that Washington borders Oregon, and you need two states that it shares a border with. So you need to learn beforehand that besides Oregon, Washington also borders Idaho. Knowing this, you can answer: “Washington borders Oregon, and both of them are in Division 9 [and so on]. Washington also borders Idaho. Then use WOC AN CUN IM Wy’ to recall / figure out that Idaho is in Division 8 and say that Idaho is in Division 8, which is also known as the Mountain Division, and is in the Western United States. It’s also possible and indeed easy to gratuitously brag a bit more at this point by adding that Idaho borders Nevada and Montana, also in Division 8 [and so on].
Likewise, in case your interlocutor asks about Wyoming, you need to take careful note of the fact that Wyoming borders Colorado. That is, unless you know the way WOC AN CUN IM Wy is folded. If you know that, you can deduce that besides bordering Montana, Wyoming also must touch Colorado, because of the way Wyoming is squashed in at the eastern end of the gap between the top and middle rows of the part of the chain of States that is in Division 8.
In fact, knowing the way the various chains are folded can be used to deduce another shared border in most cases. In the case of Oklahoma, one uses WOC AN TL A Ok’ to recall that Oklahoma is in Division 7, and borders Arkansas. Thinking about how the chain is folded in Division 7 will make you realize that Oklahoma must touch Texas as well.
h) An advanced goal would be to be able to say whether any two States share a border. My mnemonic doesn’t directly allow you to do this, but it could be stepping stone to achieving that. A much easier intermediate goal would be to be able to say whether any two States within a particular Division share a border, and my mnemonic almost tells you that, if you can remember the folding pattern, as shown by the case of Wyoming mentioned in section above. But the mnemonic doesn’t tell you, for example whether Wyoming borders Nevada.
- This is more of a general bragging tip. If you want to sneakily seem even smarter, don’t reveal the mundane truth about having used an awesome mnemonic. Instead, tell a white lie, saying that you just know, and just refuse to explain. Or say that you picked up the knowledge as a result of reading or watching the news a lot, or other reading about the US and its history. And/or say you have traveled around the US a lot. That way people will think that your knowledge of the map of the fifty states of the US and the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m only joking, of course (or am I?). By the way, seriously, watching the news a lot might be a very bad idea (https://cjzurcher.com/2020/02/05/15-reasons-to-avoid-the-news-rolf-dobelli/). Reading American history books is a great idea, though, and knowing the fifty States will make it all much more interesting, meaningful, and memorable.
- I am not sure that Mim I Iom Wiscons’ is ideal. Maybe it should be Mim I Io M Wisc’. I can’t decide which is better, and maybe it depends on who is using the mnemonic.
For someone like me, who knows the mnemonic well, and uses it and thinks about it a lot, Mim I Io M Wisc’ would be better, because “I Io” is then the southern row of Division 3, and M Wisc’ is the northern row. That encodes the most information and makes for better visualization.
It’s also nice to be able to recite: “Mim I Io P Newj, Mim I Io M Wisc, Mim K N S North.”
It’s also nice that “Mim-I Io P-Newj, Mim-I Io M-Wisc” sounds like the names of two people that differ only in the surname. And it’s nice that you can imagine someone who is looking for two men called P Newj’ and M Wisc’ and sees them one by one while trying to talk to a woman called Mim, and thus says, “Mim, I — Yo! P Newj’! Mim, I — Yo! M Wisc!’” each time having to interrupt himself when he sees each one, and never getting to finish his sentence.
On the other hand, for someone who is does not know the mnemonic well, for example uninterested students in a geography class at school, Mim I Iom Wiscons’ might be better, because it makes it less likely that the I of Iom in Mim I Iom Wiscons’ is forgotten (which would unfortunately result in the student thinking it is “*Mim I Om Wiscons’” which could result in one of the “I” states getting forgotten, probably Indiana or Illinois). The problem stems from the fact that “*Mim I Om” and “Mim I Iom” sound a lot like each other, and likewise “*Mim I Io” and “Mim I O”. Having the student recite “Mim I Io P Newj, Min I Iom Wiscons’” gives the student two ways of catching the mistake, because Io and Iom both need to be recalled incorrectly. It is perhaps more “idiot proof/resistant”. I don’t know how likely this mistake is, and therefore how important it is to guard against it in this way. Another, fairly trivial perhaps, nice thing about Mim I Iom Wiscons’ is that it matches Woc An Tl Mat Kent’, and in that way it is elegant.
The two versions need to be tried out by a variety of people and then we’ll know whether anyone needs to use the safer (“idiot-resistant”) but less fun and informative version.