Major System Visual Code
T he Major System Code is part of the Major System, a several hundreds of years old technique to encode numbers into words. Imagining these words in stories allows us to make abstract information more visual and therefore remember it much better. It is heavily used in memory competitions around the world because its phonetic code makes it accessible to most languages. But it has much more to offer than mere numbers: By using the images as memory stations it becomes something like the popular Method of Loci, giving room for basically any kind of information.
in search of a better Major system code
Some of the mnemonics used for the code are less intuitive than others. Most of them use visual similarities between the digits and the letters, two rely on the name of the numbers to assign the digit. And in case of the “5” a total “out of the box” solution, using the natural association of five fingers. Some memory athletes have altered the code in various ways to make it more intuitive.
We created a system that entirely relies on visual mnemonics and assigns all of the smart original ten phonetic groups at the same time. We call it the Visual Major System Code. In any case it enriches the Major System.
Major System Code: Number 0
We start with one of the two less intuitive ones:
After assigning eight of the ten digits with really well working visual similar letters, we were left with the number “0” and the number “4” and we had yet the phonetics of “R” as well as “F+V” left. The solution we came up with for the zero is turning it to the side and giving it two legs. That resembles the “R” nicely, but requires a tiny bit of thinking from the student. Looking at how well the others work, this is a small price to pay. It is fitting our criterias for a fully visual system and keeping the phonetics.
Major System Code: Number 1
For the number “1” we keep it original with no changes:
We use the classic assignment of the phonetic group “T+D” because “1” looks like an unfinished “T” and when mirrored on the vertical axis like a proper “T”. That works really well and is one of the best original solutions of the entire Major System. It fulfills our criteria for a visual similarity and also fits perfectly to all other assignments.
Major System Code: Number 2
For the number “2” we also stick with the original code:
Turning the “2” by 90° clockwise gives us a neat, first pointy and than curvy “N”. Turning it counterclockwise works as well but we think it looks even more like an “N” when turned clockwise. Since this letter creates a unique sound, it sits alone in its group. No changes here.
Major System Code: Number 3
For the number “3” we use the original one last time:
Turning the “3” by 90° counterclockwise gives us a really good “M”. Depending on the font it can either start pointy like in our new version or create a round “m” , resembling the golden arches of a certain fast food chain. Just like the “N” before, this letter creates a unique sound and therefore sits alone in its group. No changes here either.
Major System Code: Number 4
For the number “4” we come to our first new assignment:
We add a little bar to the top right and receive an “F”, ignoring the “nose” bit pointing to the left. The “F” is in the same phonetic group as the “V” and the “PH”. Admittedly this is not the best from the entire code, probably the contrary. We were facing the same problem as with the 0 and had to make a compromise. In retrospective I think it actually works well despite the low first intuition and certainly is better than the original approach.
Major System Code: Number 5
The number “5” we took from Simon Reinhard:
This one does not require much explanation as you see for yourself. The “5” is basically a pointy “S”. In its phonetic group we also have the “Z” and the “soft C”. Another change here is that the “S” wasn’t directly encoded before and only came with the phonetic group of the “Z”. This is now switched around.
Major System Code: Number 6
For the number “6” we use another great visual:
The “G” fits perfectly to the six. Nothing has to be changed or turned. We use the “hard G” and therefor it is paired with “K” and “hard C”. Similar to the “5” we have now switched around the original letter of the phonetic group and start the “hard G” instead of the traditional “K”.
Major System Code: Number 7
Major System Code: Number 8
For the number “8” we continue with great similarity:
We can see the “B” easiliy in the “8”. This letter is phonetically paired with the “P”. Again we switch the classic first letter of this group, this time from “P” to “B”.
Major System Code: Number 9
For the number “9” we use the final phonetical group :
The remaining one are the “J+CH+SH” sounds. Following the right and bottom line of the “9” we can spot a “J”. This is not perfect but works well and completes our attempt to find a more visual Major System Code.
And that’s it. We hope you like our new code. You can now create words out of the encoded letters by filling in vowels and the remaining unencoded consonants in the front, in the middle and the back. The number “85” could then be the word “Bus” and the number “67” could be “Goal”. If you would like to learn more about the Major System and how create words with it, you can read our article or the one on Memory-Sports.com.
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