Don’t worry, I haven’t given up on my history project, I have just put it on hold temporarily. I realised that although I really put some effort into learning the dates, information is still not stored and made accessible in a way I would like to. I find that rote learning takes too long and is too unreliable. There are quite a few dates that just don’t seem to stick, and other disappear again quickly despite my best efforts. Slightly frustrated, I decided to give the silly pictures a chance.
The major system is a way of translating numbers to words and then to pictures. It is based on the idea that our mind remembers pictures much more easily than abstract sequences of numbers, especially if they are linked to an emotion, i.e. they are funny, disgusting, scary etc. This system is used by people in memory championships, and people like this guy here ( he makes it obvious in his last calculation, starting at roughly 11:30 ).
So, how does it actually work? The Major system uses the phonetic alphabet to assign a consonant sound to every single digit number.
|0||s,z||zero starts with z|
|1||t,d||t looks much like a 1|
|2||n||has two legs down|
|3||m||has three legs down|
|4||r||last letter of four|
|5||l||L is the roman numeral for 50|
|6||sh,soft ch and g, j , dg||mumbling six gives shix –> sound needed|
|7||k, hard c and g||k “includes” two sevens|
|8||f,v||script f resembles a 8|
|9||p,b||p is a mirror image 9|
|unassigned||vowels as well as w, h and y|
Using this, one can turn every word into a number, and vice versa, by distributing the vowels so it makes sense. For example:
5 –> the sound is an l –> now pad this to make "hall” or “hell”, “lee”, “low” etc.
32 –> the sounds are “m n” which we can pad to “man” “moon” “money” or “human”
5821 -> the sounds are “l f n t”, which we can combine to write “elephant” or alternatively, break it into two chunks to make “leaf net”
If I now want to remember one of these numbers in any context, say 32 is the number of my room in a hotel, then I can imagine the interior of said room with a giant moon hanging above the bed, like one of these things for babies. If I think of my room, I will think of the moon and therefore of the number 32. Of course, this is a fairly simple example but I am planning on exploiting this system for my history studies. If you want to play about with this more, have a look here: http://pinfruit.com/ This website will convert any number into words by chunking it for you and giving you a whole list of possibilities.
If I had to actually make up words on the spot, this would take forever. Therefore, I decided to follow the suggestion to learn a fixed set of words for the numbers 0-99. That way, I will hopefully end up with a coherent system which should also make it easier to interpret old pictures. I want to be able to think “moon” every time I hear 32 and immediately be able to interpret a moon as “32” without actually having to pay attention to the individual sounds. I have only got to roughly 50 so far, so you will have to wait for the next post to get the list.
I do have to admit that I am still a little dubious about this whole thing. I can see how this is great for memory championships but I’m not quite convinced yet that I will really get some use out of this in every day life. Consider this an experiment if your average forgetful person ( = me ) can really significantly improve their memory with this, without going crazy half way. I will let you know.