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The Major System was devised by Stanislaus Mink von Wennsshein in the seventeenth century. His aim was to produce a system that could be used to convert numbers into letters and words and back again. This system was further refined in the eighteenth century by Dr Richard Grey and it is this system which is now widly accepted and used. The Major System can be used in may ways but its use in SemCubed is to provide a PegSystem for the numbers 0 to 99. Tony_Buzan? describes how SemCubed can be used in his book Master Your Memory.

In the Major system, every digit is associated with a sound:

number phonetic examples reminder
0 s, z, or soft c sew, zoo 'z' is the start of zero
1 d, t, th toad 't' and 'd' have 1 downstroke
2 n no 'n' has 2 downstrokes
3 m mom 'm' has 3 downstrokes
4 r row 4 ends in "r"; picture 4 and R glued back-to-back
5 l law 5 fingers, with thumb held out, makes an L shape; L is roman numeral for 50; breaking off the rounded part of the 5 leaves an L shape
6 j, sh, soft ch, dg, soft g shoe, chain, jaw, gee, edge 6 is like a golf club, which makes a 'ch' sound in the grass
7 k, hard ch, hard c, hard g, ng, qu cow, egg K is like two 7s rotated and combined
8 f, v ivy 8 looks like a small cursive f
9 b, p bop 9 is a rotated b and a flipped p

Not all sounds are associated with digits: Vowels (generally spelled a,e,i,o,u,y) and some sounds like "h" or "w" or "th", frequently do not have a numeric value. (Some people like to assign "th" to the number 1.) "Highway," for example, has no value.

The sounds without numbers are used as 'fillers,' which allow words to be created from any sequence of numbers. Memorising the Major System Codes can be achieved quickly and once they are memorised it is possible to translate any number into a word or sequence of words and vice versa.

It's important to understand that it's a sound, or at least, related sounds, that the digit is associated with. Spelling has nothing to do with it. The word "exit" is 701, because we sound it out "ek-sit:"

"exit" 701
"ek" 7
"si" 0
"t" 1

To convert from a number to a word, first take the codes for each digit in order from the above table. Then use the filler codes to create a word. As an example the number 52 gives the codes 'l' and 'n'. Using the filler letters the words lane, lean, lion or loin could be formed. It is usually better to try the vowels in order, a,e,i,o and u so that you can quickly find the word, in this case lane is the preferred word. Similarly the number 41 translates to rat and the number 94 into bar.

In principle any number of digits can be transformed into a word or phrase, for example the number 41149 is first converted to the letters R,T,T,R,P which can be written as the words "rat-trap," or perhaps "rotted rope." The number 5821 can be converted to the word "elephant." In practice however it is not always easy to find longer words or phrases quickly in this way and so most people split longer numbers into pairs of digits, convert them to images and then link them using the LinkSystem. This means that only 100 Major System words have to be found for the numbers 00 through 99. This is known as the Major System 100 and a standard set of words has been defined in Tony Buzans book 'Master Your Memory'.

See Also