How to Memorize the Un-Memorizable

Marcus du Sautoy in Literary Hub:

Although I’ve successfully learned the language of mathematics, it has always frustrated me that I couldn’t master those more unpredictable languages like French or Russian that I’d tried to learn in hopes of becoming a spy. Although Gauss too left his love of languages behind to pursue a career in mathematics, he did actually return to the challenge of learning new languages in later life, such as Sanskrit and Russian. At the age of 64, after two years of study, he had mastered Russian well enough to read Pushkin in the original. Inspired by Gauss’s example, I’ve decided to revisit my attempts at learning Russian.

One of the problems I have is simply remembering strange new words. Spotting patterns is my shortcut to memory. But what if there are no patterns? I wanted to know if there might be alternative shortcuts I could try. Who better to ask than Ed Cooke, a Grand Master of Memory and founder of a new venture for learning languages called Memrise?

More here.