Wordplay for Number Recognition and Retention
A fascinating word game and a fantastic memory device.
numbers to remember
First published in 1997 by
Allan Krill, Brodtkorbs vei 4, N-7018 Trondheim
Printed in Norway
ISBN 82-994200-1-6 ("Even a pooh-pooher winces with joy!")
Words and numberwords � easy to recognize, remember, and spell
Our lives are greatly simplified by our ability to recognize places, people and things that we have seen before. We recognize places we have been without checking the map. We recognize persons we have seen without needing to check the distance between her eyes or the length of his nose. We recognize the words that we read without needing to check each letter of how the words are actually spelled. Yet if asked to spell any of the words we could do so without looking at them.
But we are not as capable with long-digit numbers � telephone numbers, postal code numbers, bank account numbers, historical dates, personal identification numbers (PINs), code numbers for alarms, locks and equipment � we have no capacity for instantly recognizing them, and we have great difficulty remembering them. We deal with numbers as individual digits. They have no meaning for us, so we must always check each digit, and we must have them written down. We do manage to memorize a few long-digit numbers by writing and studying them, but if we do not use them frequently, we forget them. Then we must check them again�each individual digit.
What if we could deal with long-digit numbers as meaningful objects,
in the same way that we do with long words? We could recognize
them instantly when we saw them, ignoring the individual digits until we
wished to mentally "spell them out". This could be done if numbers
corresponded perfectly to words. They do, using a technique that
is learned in a few minutes and is so simple that even young children can
mentally spell out the corresponding numbers from any words that they can
pronounce! Words used in this way can be called numberwords.
You can use this thesaurus to find numberwords � meaningful and memorable
numberwords � that spell out the important numbers that you need to remember.
The ten number-sounds
Numberwords are based on a phonetic code that ignores all vowel sounds and deals only with the much more distinctive consonant sounds. These sounds conveniently fall into ten groups � one phonetic group for each of the ten digits. We can call these the ten basic number-sounds.
Here are the ten number-sounds, and the memory aids to help you learn them.
1 the sound t, d, th
remember t has 1 stroke down
2 the sound n, ng n has 2 strokes down
3 the sound m m has 3 strokes down
4 the sound r r in the word "four"
5 the sound l capital L resembles a 5-finger outstretched hand
6 the sound j, ch, sh, tch, J resembles backward 6
soft g, ti(tion)
7 the sound k, hard c, q, hard g in the letter k are hidden two or three 7�s
8 the sound f, v, ph, gh (cough) handwritten f resembles 8
9 the sound p, b p and b resemble 9
0 the sound z, s, soft c zero starts with z
adding s to nouns makes them plural �
adding 0 to numbers increases them ten-fold
Note that voiced and unvoiced consonants are the same number-sound:
d (voiced) = t (unvoiced), g (voiced) = k (unvoiced),
v (voiced) = f (unvoiced), b (voiced) = p (unvoiced).
z (voiced) = s (unvoiced)
Double letters form a single sound and a single number-sound: tt = 1,
nn = 2,
mm = 3. Silent letters are always ignored (knight =21), as are all vowel sounds.
Once you know these ten number-sounds, you can quickly convert any numberword to its corresponding number: you simply pronounce the words and mentally "number-spell" the sounds as you hear them. This requires no book or written code. The numberword thesaurus is used only for finding appropriate and convenient numberwords for your numbers. Once the numberwords have been found, you can put away the book, because you now have the words and can number-spell them whenever you need the numbers.
Using words to represent numbers is an old idea. An alphabetical
code for number retention was made available by Richard Grey. His
book «Memoria Technica»; or a New Method of Artificial Memory
published in England in 1730, with updated editions appearing regularly
for the next 130 years. In Grey�s code each digit corresponded to
a vowel or dipthong as well as two consonants, based on the order of the
alphabet, and artificial words were made for the specific long-digit numbers
listed in the book. This code was based on orthography, not phonetics.
The artificial words had no literary meaning but they could easily be pronounced
and were therefore easier to memorize than the numbers they represented.
The phonetic code for number retention was apparently introduced even earlier by Stanislaus Mink von Wennsshein and is known as the Major System (see Use Your Perfect Memory, 3rd edition, by Tony Buzan, 1991 Penguin Books). Krill�s Numberword Thesaurus uses the Major System, with one slight modification. The ng sound in the Major System is 7, as if pronounced like hard g, without n. This pronunciation is obtained by holding your nose as you try to pronounce words such as running, or singing. In this thesaurus the ng sound is 2, similar to an n without g, more closely reflecting the modern nasal pronunciation. The Major System is probably best known today as Lorayne�s system, because it has been learned by millions of people who have read The Memory Book, by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas (1974, Ballantine Books). Although the technique is well described and fun to use, the difficulty lies in finding appropriate numberwords when needed. The Numberword Thesaurus solves this problem, making interesting numberwords readily available.
Before you read further, take a few minutes now to learn the ten number-sounds. To check that you know them, open the thesaurus and spell out some of the numberwords listed.