How does the Major System work?
|t, d, th
|j, ch, sh
|c, k, g, q, ck
|v, f, ph
This mnemonic system is based on the substitution of sounds with digits. With this technique you can represent words by numeric sequences. Since remembering words is far more easy than numbers, this system can be used to easily remember numerical sequences, like telephone numbers or year dates. For the number you want to remember you find corresponding words which you turn into a catchy story. The made up story should be very unusual so it sticks.
To get the numerical representation of a word you have to follow a few rules. You should be very good at remembering those rules, so you can translate your story quickly back into the actual numbers. This task should not be underestimated!
- Consonants get substituted by the table.
- Vowels and the letters w, h, y and x are ignored.
- Double letters are disregarded. So ss equals 0.
Let's do an example with the word Satellite to demonstrate how the Major System works:
|S = 0
|t = 1
|ll = 5, no double letter
|t = 1
The complete Major Code for Satellite is 0151.
To remember the sounds of the substituions have a look at the following sentence. When you apply the Major System code to it you go from zero to nine and have a nice way to remember the sounds & digits in the right order.
This handy trick was created by Adam Beggs from Hertford, UK.
In many areas of our daily life numbers are of importance. The Major System can help you to better remember them.
Here are a few ideas how to use it:
- Remember birthdays and year dates
- Mnemonics for phone numbers
- Recall Credit Card numbers and pin codes
- Magic tricks with numbers, like reproducing unusual many figures of π
History of the Major System
The Major System was invented by Johann Just Winkelmann, also known under his pseudonym Stanislaus Mink von Wennsheim. He thought it up around the end of the 17. century. Since then the Major System had many revisions from different people, thus it's known in a few different alternatives today.
For more information about the Major System, mnemonic training and other mnemonic techniques I put together a few links:
About this Major System database
In this Major System wordlist are currently over 60,000 words. They are distributed over about 25,000 Major System Codes.
In the following diagram you can read how many words are available on the various length of different Major Codes.