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Pseudonumerology is a system for memorizing numbers by turning them into words. It works because the mind is much better at remembering images and ideas than numbers and digits. By turning numbers into words, you can easily memorize a ten-digit PIN number or a locker combination in a matter of minutes.

How it works:

To get started, you have to memorize the ten consonant sounds and the digits they correspond with. Below is a list of them, followed by memory aids that will help you to remember them.


0   -   S, z, soft c (think of SOS, as a zero between two S's)
1   -   T, d, th (T is written with one downward stroke)
2   -   N, ng (N is written with two downward strokes)
3   -   M (M is written with three downward strokes)
4   -   R (the word four ends with R)
5   -   L (L is Roman numeral for 50)
6   -   J, ch, sh, tch, soft g (cursive J resembles a backwards 6)
7   -   K, q, hard c, hard g (there are two hidden 7's in the letter K)
8   -   F, v, ph (cursive f with two loops resembles an 8)
9   -   P, b (P resembles a backwards 9)

Notice that there are multiple letters that can make some of the sounds. For example, a hard c makes a K sound, and a sh fits with the J sounds.

Once you have the digit sounds down, you can begin to number-spell. Here are some examples:


71   =   KT   =   cat
30   =   MS   =   moose
9277   =   PNKK   =   pancake
9435272   =   PRMLNKN   =   Abraham Lincoln

When number-spelling, first convert the digits of the number you want to memorize into their respective consonant sounds. Then, you can think of words that can be made from the sounds. Note that vowel sounds do not matter; "cat", "cot", "cute", and "coat" all translate into 71. Likewise, silent letters are not considered. "Knife" translates to 28, not 728. Double-letters are also disregarded; "pillow" translates to 95, not 955. When converting numbers to words, just remember, focus on sounds, not on spelling.

Now, let’s say you receive a locker combination that you must remember. It is:

15-32-43

First, convert the digits into sounds:

TL-MN-RM

These consonant sounds can be put together to form the words “tall man rim”. Now, all you have to do to remember the combination is to picture a tall man, hanging on the rim after having slam dunked.

These numbers just as easily could have been made into “dwell moon room”, in which case you’d picture yourself dwelling in a room on the moon.

Pseudonumerology becomes even more useful when used to remember longer numbers. Let’s say you have to remember a phone number and area code, a total of ten digits:

957-787-3674

The process is the same. Convert the digits to sounds:

PLK-KFK-MJKR

Then make words that form an image that is easily remembered. For example, “black coffee awoke my jaguar”. To remember this phrase, simply picture yourself giving black coffee to a tired jaguar. An alternate image is "bully, cook, heavy guy, Amish hacker". Remember these four people, and you'll never forget the phone number.


Some tips:

  • Don't even think about spelling. Just say the words and recognize their consonant sounds.
  • Try to make your images weird, funny, or both. They are easier to remember that way.
  • Don't worry if translating in your head is slow at first. With practice, it will become easier and quicker.

Resources on the Web:

http://www.armory.com/~percy/pseudonum.htm
http://www.placevaluenumbers.com/

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