Major System for Non English Speaker

Hi, I’m a beginner in this forum. My native language is Malay, and I also speak in English and Arabic. But I really wanted to make the major system more applicable to my native language, so I pick up commonly used consonants in the language and assign it to each number. But it’s not efficient, it took me forever to even think of words that can represent one digit number like tie, die (Malay has few meaningful words in 3 letter). My question is for those of you who are not native English speakers, do you use the major system in English or your native language? Do you find yourself more efficient in English or your native language?

If you speak 3 languages does your major system used uniform numbers to consonants association shared between all the languanges? Is it possible? For example in Arabic, the consonant is already group based on pronouncations and it is not tally with English.

This is all so confusing. something I come out of with Arabic word, sometime Malay, sometime English. Help, I can’t even start on my numbers memorization system because I can’t even decide on my major system.


The way I did it was to create images for 00-99 and then use a Number Shape System for 0-9. If you do that you won’t need to find phonetic matches for one-digit numbers.

It’s okay to mix languages in a system. I have some foreign words in my system.

If you post some examples of specific numbers/words where you’re stuck we could help brainstorm ideas.

1 Like

I think,instead of following “Major System’s” phonetic sounds to match in your language,it is better to make something unique in your native language. For example,you could follow “Dominique System” and give each number(from 0 to 9) a specific letter in your native language. Later,you could develop “PAO” system from those letters…

It is better to follow Dominic System instead of Major system,if you are trying to convert ‘numbers to items’ in your native language. Phonetic number systems like “Major system” may create a lot of confusion in different languages…

I personally use both “Dominic System” and “Katapayadi system” of shanskrit language(similar to my native language) together for bigger numbers.

Below is a link where you could get some idea for making “Major System” in your native language:


The Number shape system is very helpful for 0-9! How do you create images till 99, do you use the number shape system as well?

I actually need to memorize something that is consequent in order and it consist of 114 names. I want to be able to tell what the name is when asked, says, what is the 93rd name. But for now I’m stuck with trying to come out with the phonetic match for 0-9 in my native language. For example, I want to change 8 to glottical a, i (which is considered as consonant in my native language) instead of f,v (which is rarely used in my native language) but then I will be confused with English because I will be most likely to use English word as well.

Since that is all so confusing, is it efficient enough to just use number shape system in memorizing all numbers?

Hi Helma,

I don’t use Number Shape System. I don’t need it,as I use “Katapayadi system” for single digits.

I don’t think,you should use “Number Shape System” for double digit numbers. Because what if you have to use ‘11’. That means,you have to use ‘two sticks’ for 11. You will get confused by that. What about four digits like 1111. It will be tough to recall 1111 with just “Number Shape System”. But you can try…

I also don’t use “Major System”. I use Dominic System instead which is not based on 'Phonetic system".

I only use number shapes for 0-9, but there is something called the Shaper System, if you want to continue past 9 with shapes. Another alternative is an association system. You might also be interested in the How to Memorize Numbers video.

(My numbers system is described here.)

You can use multiple consonants per digit. I use R for 4, but it can also be TH when it’s the last digit of a 3-digit number (in a 3-digit system).


Number Sounds Image
044 S-A-R sardines
054 S-AI-TH scythe

(The middle digit is a vowel for me – my example is just to illustrate that the 4 can have two different sounds.)


In case a word doesn’t exist, it helps to have some blank consonants. The major system uses h, w, and y for this purpose. Since 34 = mr and there’s not much you can do with it, you might choose “hammer” as your word. Personally, I use Thor’s distinctive hammer.

You could try something similar with Malay. I don’t speak Malay at all (and I only know a few words in Indonesian), so I can’t help you.

1 Like

The challenge of “111” with a shape system is easily solved by having multiple shape options. “1” could typically be a stick, but if you need more instances, the next “1” could be a candle, the next a nail, etc.


1 Like

Good idea! But I still find it difficult and needless. How about “99999”! It might be tough to remember and organize five different shapes for the same number. But some people may be able to do it. I personally find ‘Dominic or Major’ system great for converting numbers to images.

After much thought, I decided to use the shape system for 0-9 and the Dominic system for the rest of the number till 100 with some numbers using association instead of people’s initial. The Major system seems so much fun but difficult for me. Anyway, I found that most article was speaking about Dominic system as a way to remember long string of numbers as it is useful for PAO later on. But I’m mostly concerned on using it as Peg system. I think besides telephone no, bank account no and such, I’m won’t find everyday need to remember long string of number. So, people do use Dominic system to remember consequent as well right? Like no 15 generated from the Dominic system is Avril Lavigne for me. So I would just associate Avril Lavigne with item no 15th. Do we also place them in the memory palace? Or do people use memory palace only? Like they have a place for no 15th in their memory palace.

Helma, you can use Dominic system for a lot of things. Besides using Dominic System for numbers,you can use it for “making lists of all kinds, or use it for remembering years/date or use it as pegs to link information or use it to remember important points of a book and so on”! There are so many things you can do! Sky is the limit! :slight_smile:

When I learned Dominic System, I put the characters in locations of the Memory Palace first. This way it was very easy for me to memorise the characters. Then,I have put them in Anki to review them time to time.

Just start from somewhere. You will eventually get it…

1 Like

Oh, absolutely. I’m a Major fan. But I believe the OP was asking about a system that worked across languages. The shape system will do that.

Not that it matters, but if I were forced to use shape associations to remember “9999,” I’d probably just picture a clown holding four balloons. This is essentially what I’m doing in my memory journey for the US states and the dates they joined the Union. For Alaska, my Aunt Jan is holding a baked Alaska with three candles in it. That tells me January 3.



Will definitely try your tips! Thank you.

I use french and english. I found that adding the w sound to m helps for 3. I also added the y sound (as in Yes) or ille in french that sounds like y to f and v. That seems to help. I also like to group first letter of the word with the last 2 consonnants and ignore the extra in the middle. That helps if you work on a 3 digit systeem.


Dear Helma,
My native language is Semitic (Hebrew), so I face similar problems (not least of which the fact there are no f or v sounds in the beginning of words as these must be substituted by p and b respectively). My thoughts:

  1. some people here suggested working in more than one language. I think this would be a grave mistake. Use your native tongue only. Years from now when you revisit an old dusty “place” and see Washington standing there, how will you pronounce his name in your mind? In Malay or in English? This of course will change the number the name produces, because unlike what some here hinted, you don’t really encode an alphabet, you encode SOUNDS and thus pronunciation is far more important than spelling.
  2. I simply added gutturals to the major system, and placed f+p and v+b as the same digit. Does this mean you have to be more creative with your word choice? Probably. But this is the downside of using a Western mnemonic with language that do not obey Indo-European phonetics.
  3. I understand your main problem is that Malay is mostly made of words with many vowels and few consonants. You might want to think about “stacking” much used consonants with less used consonants (by stacking I mean making them share the same digit), and then doing the unthinkable: giving the leftover numerical values to vowels (also stacked). This would probably work far better for a language with words like “pulau”. Suddenly you’ll have a 5 digit number (or 4, depending on how you actually pronounce the diphthong), per mental object.
    Best of luck! Don’t be afraid to be creative. And, again, don’t be tempted to mix your languages, as a polyglot I can tell you this will come back to bite you when you try to recall many years later.
1 Like

About point 1: One guy, @Nightwalker managed to memorize a deck of cards under 30 seconds in a matter of a couple of months using entirely english words and Major system and English is his second language. So, not using your first language may not be that serious a mistake. It may be entirely irrelevant.
It it possible to use rhyme to create different images for translated words. Ex, Cheval is horse in french. You may have a picture of a cheval running in a vallee (valley) as vallee rhymes a bit with cheval, so you know it is a french horse. The English horse may be pulling a hearse. These images may work well within a single system.


I’m wondering why we have to bind learning words to any system? Just bind them to
equivalent in your language.

1 Like

Well, an English horse is 40 in Major system whereas a French horse is 685 in major system, cheval. So if you see a horse, just the image of it, what number will it be? 40 or 685? It is the image that is bound to the system. When you speak more than one language, which language is yours?

1 Like

Despite me deciding to use dominic system, just recently, when I was in a real life situation where I need to remember numbers, I found myself actually come with the numbers equivalent to major system in my native words. I totally forgot my dominic equivalent. I guess maybe if I train myself hard enough to be efficient in Major system, it’s will be highly beneficial. I appreciated your suggestion about using vowel as part of it. Perhaps I should try.

Elitely , how you memorized numbers faster with Katapyadi system. (There are lots of choices for every single numbers)

Personally , I use it before (when i am not joined in art of memory forum ) but for speed memorizing , i think it’s not work well for me.