It was useful to know that “language learners who sing phrases in a foreign tongue can recall them better than those who simply speak them” (“Lyrical linguists”, Campus round-up, 1 August). The only problem with this method is when the words change but the stirring tune remains.
Having learned the words to the first version of the State Anthem of the USSR, which praised Stalin and the Red Army, and then the second version modified after his death, and finally attempted the State Anthem of the Russian Federation introduced by Putin in 2000, I find a consistent emotional response to the melody remains but the various Russian verses interfere with each other, leading to total confusion.
R. E. Rawles
Honorary research fellow in psychology
University College London