dimanche 10 mars 2013

The Major System

IT has been on my mind since a few days already. When I was still in Koh Tao and a couple of days after I started to read Joshua Foer's book "Moonwalking with Einstein", about memory improvement which is a matter directly connected to language learning:

   Basically, one can only learn a language much more efficiently and faster by improving their memory. Everything is about memory in our society, either internal or external as it is mostly the case now. Well, to be intelligent one must have a potent internal memory and until technology makes the amazing step of providing to humans external memory into our own brain we'll still have to process and learn informations by ourselves to keep up with others dotted of a descent amount of culture and intelligence.        
     There are actually simple ways to drastically improve one's capacity to integrate new informations and store them as a powerful tool to built a richer, brighter and simply more colourful life for yourself.   
     This "food for the brain" doesn't actually have to be evacuated as excrements almost as soon as it reaches it and with a little practise almost everything can be remembered and brought back to life instantly. 
     I am not even close of such an accomplishment since Joshua Foer's book is the only one I have read so far on the topic and it is not a "self-development" book even though it gives away a couple of simple tricks to improve one's memory. 

For example, there is an extremely simple system to be able to remember easier "numbers" called the "major system" and invented around 1648 by Johann Winkelmann, which is nothing more than a simple code to convert numbers into phonetic sounds. 
     For example 1 is T or D, 2 is N, 3 is M and R would be 4. The number 32, for example, would translate into MN and 33 would be MM. To make those consonants meaningful, you’re allowed to freely intersperse vowels. So the number 32 might turn into an image of a man and 33 could be your mom. 
     What I thought about while having a brief look at that system is that instead of including vowels after, to actually make the system with vowels too so that 1 could be I or J, 2 could be E or N, 3 could be A or M and so on. 
     This way an entire set of maybe 10 digits could be pronounced as a meaningless word of 5 simple syllables which is still much easier to remember than 10 digits or even 5 words needing some kind of association for the trick to work. 
           Or it isn't more simple!?
    This is the thing. I might not have figured out anything at all (and probably many have already thought about it before) since meaningless words, and especially series of them (if a long list of digits has to be remembered) might not be of much help as they cannot be associated to any strong and vivid images, an absolute "must" in the small world of "memory training". 
      Now sure, probably 'aboidaolaaol" might be much easier to remember than the 12 digits: 120741091109 (if they weren't the dates of 2 main American events) but there again, the major system might work better. Up for you to look for it an try for yourself. 
     At least, the "V major system" as I could call it (including Vowels) is even easier to use than the original Major one. 
     It could take half an hour for most people to make their own and start using it without any need to create new words along the way. Most of digits have to be either a vowel or a consonant to avoid things PLB or OOO to happen.
     For example three 1 in a raw could be written IJI. and 123322113 could go as: INAMENIJA or JEMANEJIM and both would perfectly mean 123322113 even if obviously only one of the 2 codes would have to be remembered.

     It is quite obvious that there aren't 10 vowels in our latin alphabet but only 5 in the standard one. Sounds and for that matter accents will be necessary: 
     as é and è and e. o and ô (open and closed O) and the two different U soundings. That makes already 9 different vowels soundsand all I can think about right now.
     Also, when a digit is doubled (ex: 22, 33..) one could include a new unique letter (consonant) to make the number even shorter. If 2 means either E or N the 22 could be P for example, 33 could be R and so on, as long as the letters aren't part of the 1 to 10 original system already. 
    Using a set of 10 consonants and 10 Vowels mutually interchangeable would unable 10 different still unused consonants to be also part of the system for the double digits.
     There again, learning this "extra tool" to shorten the final number even more is a harder task but generally it is a common rule that "more you work initially and less you have to work the rest of the time". 

    Nowadays people don't have to remember numbers since your smartphone does it for you and very well but knowing your relatives phone numbers by heart can be a very rewarding exercise. Even, asking a girl's (or boy's) phone number and using your own memory to store it can be quite seductive for most people and a proof of your genuine interest toward them! Of course, digits aren't solely limited to phone numbers and remembering them could be used for a much wider range of applications. 

Now, there is another system supposedly better than the major one. It's called the PAO and I will talk about it on the next post...                                               

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