Students Plus: Improving Memory-5,System 4-Letter Shape

Memory system

It’s all getting a bit complex now so we will now simplify it again, and look at a system that was discovered many years ago whereby whole words could be made out of letters.

We can see that numbers are the easiest way of organizing the information, but unfortunately numbers in themselves are fairly abstract. So a system had to be found which would enable numbers to take on flesh and blood. This would have two advantages – the first would mean that you could create an infinite number of memory places without having to keep the images becoming more and more complex with patches and banks; the second was that you could retain dates, telephone numbers and other strings of complex digits.


The system is based around each number having a shape which relates to the shape of a letter, or rather the shape of the letter AND ANY OTHER PHONIC SOUND PRODUCED BY SIMILAR LETTERS OR COMBINATION OF LETTERS. For example ‘f’ in fish is the same sound as ‘ph’ in elephant. These are the letters, and the ways of remembering them

1 t,d − the vertical stroke down starts the letter, it is the sound produced with a flick of the tongue on the teeth

2 n − the two down strokes on the letter n in lower case

3 − m similar to n, in that there are 3 down strokes

4 − r The last letter of the word four

5 − L When you look at your right hand palm upwards and thumb out, it will form the letter L. It is also Roman for 50.

6 − soft g sound − it is the number 6 upside down. As in badge. Equally the sound works for a j, so 6 is also j.

7 − K, hard ch sound, hard g sound (as in girl). Take two mirror versions of a 7 and put them back to back

8 − F, ph,v, th sounds. Similar to a hand written              and sounds are alike.

9 − P or b. 9 is a mirror image of p, lower case b is 9 rotated 180 degrees. They are both formed on the lips with a faint pop sound.

0 − S or S, sch, sh. Z starts the word Zero, both and z are formed with air escaping through a small hole formed by tongue and teeth.

Take some time learning these letters as they do take time, and it is worth getting right now.

All other letters including vowels and such letters as w, y etc are filler letters and do not stand for any number, but help in the formation of words.

The first 10 numbers can be a bit tricky because of the words necessary, but then I will drop in a few of the higher numbers up to the number 100 as guide.

0 − Sea

1 − Day ( a calendar?)

2 − Noah

3 − Ma

4 − Ra (a type of boat, also an Egyptian God)

5 − Law − imagine a court room

6 − jaw

7 − key

8 − fee (an entrance ticket perhaps?)

9 − bay

10 − Toes

32 – man

59 – Lab

73 − comb (note that the b is not sounded, so this is a legitimate word for 73. Were the b sounded it would be number 739!)

98 − Bath

You will need to come up with the other words yourself. As it is the best way of learning and making any system personal to you.

With this system it is comparatively easy to come up with a list up to 9999 long! You need to break it down though.

Dominic O’Brien is a world memory champion, and he suggests using these letters in a quite remarkable way. Break the four digit number into the parts, so you have to digits followed by two digits. The first two digits are represented by the kind of list that you have above, but the second two are famous movie stars, represented by their initials. So Sean Connery is 07 (no relation to James Bond either!) If you had a number to remember, or wanted to place something at position 5907, then you would imagine that item in a Lab with the chemist as Sean Connery making some potion or other.

Of course, you don’t need t limit yourself to short 4 letter groupings. If you can manage to them any word can become a number, but it must be a touchable object or person. The word Dressing Gown for example would represent the number 1402772… which looks suspiciously like a phone number! In which case if your friend who is called Arthur has the number 1402772, you would imagine Arthur, holding a phone (so you knew what it was about) in a dressing gown. This demonstrates how you use different systems at different times and places, which I will discuss later on when I suggest some pointers as to how to remember some of those dates that you might have to learn in history!

The following pictures are suggestions only of words that could be used to encode numbers as pictures. I would not be so bold as to suggest that I had come up with them however! From research  I believe that the first person to use these words as part of a system was Harry Lorayne in the ‘50’s. It is important however to make the effort to come up with your OWN words, and the following have been provided only as a guide and with due respect to Harry.

1. tie                      11. tot                             21. net                   31. Mat                  41. rod

2. Noah                 12. tin                             22. nun                  32. moon                42. rain

3. ma                     13. tomb                         23. name               33. mummy           43. ram

4. rye                     14. tire                           24. Nero                34. mower              44. rower

5. law                    15. towel                        25. nail                  35. mule                 45. roll

6. shoe                   16. dish                          26. notch               36. match               46. roach

7. cow                   17. tack                          27. neck                37. mug                  47. rock

8. ivy                     18. dove                         28. knife                38. movie               48. roof

9. bee                    19. tub                            29. knob                39. mop                  49. rope

10. toe                   20. Nose                         30. mice                40. rose                  50. Lace

51. lot                    61. sheet                         71. cot                   81. fit                     91. bat

52. lion                  62. chain                        72. coin                 82. phone               92. bone

53. loom                63. chum                        73. comb               83. foam                 93. bum

54. lure                  64. cherry                       74. car                   84. fur                    94. bear

55. lily                  65. jail                            75. Coal                85. file                   95. bell

56. leech               66. choo choo                76. cage                 86. fish                   96. beach

57. log                   67. chalk                        77. coke                87. fog                    97. book

58. lava                 68. chef                          78. cave                 88. fife                   98. puff

59. lip                    69. ship                          79. cob                  89. fob                    99. pipe

60. cheese             70. case                          80. fez                   90. bus                   100. thesis or disease


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