reminder or remembrance

danielxu85

Senior Member
Mandarin Chinese
I think "reminder" and "remembrance" both mean a certain thing which could help people recall. However, I don't think I quite understand their difference.
Which would you put into the blank? The writer chose "remembrance".

This painting is a ______of the time when I was living in the Huayuan Hsincheng housing complex.
 
  • Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    Well, I am going to have to disagree with my fellow foreras. In this context, "remembrance" is the better choice (though, of course, both would be possible). A "reminder" is a neutral term; it can, for example, refer to a string that you tie around your finger so that you will remember to buy bread today! A "remembrance" is a more emotional term, evoking something happy, sad, wonderful, awful, etc. from your past. It usually has a positive connotation (but not always) and is used somewhat synonymously with "souvenir" or "memento": He kept the flower in remembrance of his wife. In addition, we always use "remembrance" when we commemorate the dead: "He donated a great deal of money to the university in remembrance of his father."

    But as you have said, Daniel; let's wait and see what others may say!
     

    jennijenni

    Senior Member
    American English (AE) / USA
    A remembrance typically signifies that something is "being remembered;" whereas a reminder causes something to be remembered. At least, that how I've understood it. (In other words, a reminder prompts a remembrance of a memory.

    See Merriam-Webster:
    http://209.161.33.50/dictionary/remembrance
    http://209.161.33.50/dictionary/reminder

    So, in the case of your sample sentence, I would say that it is a reminder not a remembrance. The painting might cause a remembrance (therefore being a reminder) but it is unlikely to be an actual remembrance itself.

    I hope that makes sense.
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    A remembrance evokes a memory (but we wouldn't say it was a reminder of a memory). It still seems to me that the biggest difference between the two words is that the word "remembrance" has a strong, emotional connotation that is generally lacking in "reminder," and this is why "Remembrance Day" is commemorated in the UK, Canada, and Australia--to remember the sacrifices made during WWI and WWII. Unfortunately, few dictionaries take connotation into account in their definitions.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I would also use "remembrance" for the same reasons as Joelline has stated. To me, a photo, painting, postcard, souvenir, etc. would not be "reminders" - they evoke my memories, hence, are "remembrances".
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hi Daniel,

    I just noticed your question about whether remembrance is countable or uncountable. Generally, it can be used as a countable noun (I've seen it in the plural, but I can't think of a single example with a number--someone else may, however.):
    • The veterans spoke of their remembrances of the war.
    • I'm keeping these things as remembrances of my sister.
     

    Orange Blossom

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. English
    • The veterans spoke of their remembrances of the war.
    • I'm keeping these things as remembrances of my sister.
    These sentences sound very odd to me. I'm not saying they are wrong, just that they sound odd. I would say that 'remembrance' in general is not countable. In fact, my dictionary does not even have a plural form listed. In the rare instances that it might be countable, I would opt for one of the synonyms or use a verbal form of a synonym.

    The veterans spoke of their war momentos.
    The veterans spoke of their reminiscences.
    The veterans reminisced about the war.
    The travelers talked about their souvenirs.
    The travelers talked about their remembrances. <-- Just sounds weird. I've never heard anyone use remembrance in the plural, and just now is the first time I've seen it in print.

    I'd change the second sentence to "I'm keeping these things in remembrance of my sister."

    Orange Blossom
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    I think "reminder" and "remembrance" both mean a certain thing which could help people recall. However, I don't think I quite understand their difference.
    Which would you put into the blank? The writer chose "remembrance".

    This painting is a ______of the time when I was living in the Huayuan Hsincheng housing complex.
    Both reminder and remembrance can mean "memento, keepsake."

    A remembrance suggests to me that we haven't forgotten; a reminder suggests that we have.
     
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