Herigone’s mnemonic system is a mnemonic technique used to make it easier to memorize numbers. The basic idea of the system is to convert numbers into consonant sounds, and then add vowels to turn the consonant collection into words. The words can then be remembered as they are or in the form of images.
This mnemonic system works well for people who find it easier to remember words or images than to remember numbers.
Herigone’s Mnemonic System is also known as The Major System, The Phonetic Number System and The Phonetic Mnemonic System.
With Herigone’s mnemonic system, each numeral is associated with one or more consonants.
Each numeral maps to a set of sounds. The link is phonetic, not spelling-based.
Double letters are disregarded unless they are pronounced separately.
- The word midday encodes 311 since the consonant sounds are m-d-d.
- In the word accept, the consonants are pronounced k-s-p-t. It therefore encodes 7091.
Below, you will find a commonly used standard mapping based on the English language, with a rhotic accent. You can of course create your own mapping if you prefer and use the language and accent you are most familiar with.
In the standard mapping below, the consonants w, h and y are not associated with any numeral, making it possible to utilize them as fillers.
|Numeral||Sounds (IPA)||Commonly associated letters||Mnemonic help|
soft X (as in xenophobe)
|S, C, Z and X has zero vertical strokes|
DTH (as in thing and this)
|T and D each has one vertical stroke
The dental fricatives (TH) are similar sounding. Some mapping systems omit them.
|2||/n/||N||N has two vertical strokes.|
|3||/m/||M||Lower case m has three vertical strokes.
Upper case M has three points on the baseline.
M and m looks like the numeral 3 on its side.
L (as in colonel)
|In rhotic accents, the word four ends with the r-sound.|
|5||/l/||L||L is the Roman numeral for 50.|
|CH (as in cheese a)
C (as in speciality)
CZ (in Czech)
S (as in vision)
SCH (as in seschew)
Z (as in seizure)
|G and g look like the numeral 6.
J has a lower lopp, making it similar to the numeral 6 flipped.
In many fonts with serifs, CH, SH and ZH each have six serifs.
hard CH (as in loch)
|K looks like a two joined sevens mirroring each other.
In some fonts, the lower-right part of the upper case G looks like a seven.
PH (as in phone)
|With its upper and lower loop, a lower case script f looks a bit like the numeral 8.|
GH (as in hiccough)
|P and p looks like the number 9 flipped horizontally.
Lower case b looks like 9 turned 180 degrees.
all vowel sounds
|h, y, w, a, e, i, o, u
silent letters, e.g. c in bracket
doubled letters in most context, e.g. the second p in sapphire
|Vowel sounds, semivowels (/j/ and /w/) and /h/ do not correspond to any number. They can therefore appear anywhere in a word without changing its number value.
The same is true for silent letters in words.
Opinions differ about the sound /ŋ/. In some systems, it is classified together with /n/ and used to encode the numeral 2. In some systems, it is classified together with /k/ and /g/ used to encode the numeral 7.
Using Herigone’s mnemonic system
Learning the system will take some time and the system can feel cumbersome at first. Once you have learned a “vocabulary” of at least one word/image for each 1 digit number and each 2 digit number, it will be much easier for you to use the system. To aid long-term memory, sentences or narratives can be constructed instead of just individual words.
Herigone’s mnemonic system can be combined with other systems and memory techniques, e.g. by using pegs, rhyming, substitute words and the method of loci.
Several computer programs have been created that will automatically translate numbers into suitable words. The user can then pick the best alternative. Examples of such programs are 2Know, Fonbee, Numzi och Rememberg.