|A certain organization, whose membership consisted of gag-writers only, was having its annual dinner at a swank hotel in New York City. One of the membership rules of the organization was that the members would never actually tell a joke or a gag to each other. They had memorized all the standard gags by numbers, and instead of telling the joke, they would save time by simply calling the number of that particular one. |
During the dinner, as a situation would present itself, and any of the comedy writers thought of a gag to fit the situation, he would call the number, and shouts of laughter would invariably go up. "Number 148," called one—peals of laughter. "Number 204," shouted another—more laughter. Towards the end of the dinner, one of the new members shouted "Number 212," and was greeted by a loud silence. Whereupon his neighbor turned to him and said, "You'll soon learn, my friend, that it's not the joke that's important, but the way you tell it."
Although the above is pure fiction, most people would say it is impossible to remember so many jokes by number. Let me assure you that it is possible, and I will teach you how, in a later chapter. First, however, you must learn how to remember the numbers. Numbers themselves are about the most difficult things to remember because they are completely abstract and intangible. It is almost impossible to picture a number. They are geometric designs and they mean nothing in our minds, unless they have been associated to something you know, over a period of time. Of course, your own address or your own telephone number does mean something to you. The problem is to be able to associate any and all numbers easily, quickly, and at any time.
If you were to try to hang a painting on your bare living room wall, what would happen? Why, the painting would fall to the floor, of course. However, if you had a tiny peg in that wall, then you would be able to hang the painting on it. What I'm going to do is to give you some "pegs"; no, not for your wall—but to keep in your mind, always. Anything you wish to remember from now on, having to do with numbers in any way, you will be able to "hang" on these pegs! That is why I call this the PEG system of memory.
The PEG system will show you how to count with objects (which can be pictured) instead of numbers. This is not a particularly new thought. It was first introduced by Stanislaus Mink von Wennsshein along about the year 1648. In the year 1730, the entire system was modified by Dr. Richard Grey, of England, who called the idea, letter or "number equivalents". The idea was great, but the method just a bit clumsy, because he used vowels as well as consonants in the system. Since 1730, however, many changes have been made, although the idea is basically the same.
In order for you to learn the method, you must first learn a simple phonetic alphabet. No need for dismay—it consists of only ten sounds, and with my help, it shouldn't take you more than ten minutes to learn them. This will be the most worthwhile ten minutes you've ever spent, since this phonetic alphabet will eventually help you to remember numbers, or numbers in conjunction with anything else, in such a way that you never would have thought possible.
I will give you now, a different consonant sound for each of the digits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 0. These you must commit to memory. I'll make this simple for you by giving you a "memory aid" for remembering each one. Read them carefully and with your full attention.
The sound for #1 will always be—T or D. The letter T has one downstroke.
The sound for # 2 will always be—N. Typewritten n has two downstrokes.
The sound for #3 will always be—M. Typewritten m has three downstrokes.
The sound for #4 will always be—R. Final sound of the word, "four" is R.
The sound for #5 will always be—L. Roman numeral for 50 is L.
The sound for #6 will always be—], ch, sh, soft g, etc. The letter ] turned around is almost like the number 6. (j6)
The sound for #7 will always be—K, hard c, hard g. The number 7 can be used to form a K. One seven rightside up, and the other upside down. ( "K ) •
The sound for #8 will always be—F or V. Written f and figure 8 both have two loops, one above the other. (f8).
The sound for #9 will always be—P or B. The number 9. turned around is P.
The sound for 0 (zero) will always be—S or Z. First sound of the word, "zero".
If you will attempt to picture the little memory aid that I have given with each one, you should remember them easily. Please keep in mind that the letters are not important; we are interested in the sound only. That's why I call this a phonetic alphabet. With some of the digits I've given more than one letter, but the phonetic sounds of these letters are the same, in each case. Your lips, tongue and teeth are used in the same identical way to sound P and B, or F and V, or J, sh, ch, etc. The sound of the letter G in the exclamation, "gee" would, according to the phonetic alphabet, represent #6, whereas the same letter in the word, "go" would represent #7. The letter C in the word "coat" represents #7, the same letter in the word "cent" would represent zero, since it is pronounced with the s sound. The letters Kn in the word, "knee" or "knife" would stand for #2, because the K is silent. Remember then, it is the sound that's important, not the letter. Now, look this over once:—
| 1. T, D
|| 6. J, sh, ch, g|
| 2. N
|| 7. K, c, g|
| 3. M
|| 8. F, v|
| 4. R
|| 9. P, b|
| 5. L
|| 0. Z, s|
Turn away from this page and see if you remember the sounds from one to zero. Test yourself on remembering them out of order, too. You should know them all by now. I could give you one more aid for memorizing these sounds, by telling you to remember this nonsense phrase: TeN MoRe LoGiC FiBS. This will help you to memorize the sounds in order from one to zero. It is necessary, however, to know them out of sequence—so you shouldn't have to rely on the nonsense phrase too long—the original memory aids that I gave you, should suffice.
This simple phonetic alphabet is of utmost importance, and the sounds should be practiced until they are second nature to you. Once they are, the rest of the Peg system will be a cinch for you. Here is a method of practice to help you learn the sounds thoroughly:— Anytime you see a number, break it down into sounds in your mind. For example, you might see the number 3746 on a license plate; you should be able to read it as m, k, r, j. You might see an address 85-29, and be able to read it as fl-np. You can look at any word and practice breaking it down into numbers. The word "motor" would be 314. The word "paper" is 994, and "cigarette" would break down to 0741. (The double tt is the same sound as a single t, therefore it represents #1, not #11.)
None of the vowels, a e i o or u have any meaning at all in the phonetic alphabet; neither do the letters w, h or y. (Remember the word, "why").
Before going any further, complete the following exercises. The first column of words should be changed to numbers, and the second column of numbers must be broken into sounds.
|| 6124 _____|
| butler ______
|| 8903 _____|
| chandelier ______
|| 2394 _____|
|| 0567 _____|
| bracelet ______
|| 1109 _____|
| hypnotize ______
|| 8374 _____|
You are ready now to learn some of those "pegs" I mentioned. I would suggest however, that you know the sounds thoroughly before you go on to the pegs themselves.
All right, since we now know a certain phonetic sound for all the digits from one to zero, you can see that we can make up a word for any number, no matter how many digits it contains. For example, if we wanted to make up a word for #21, we could use any of the following:—net, nut, knot, gnat, nod, neat, note, knit, etc., because they all begin with the n sound (#2) and end with the t or d sound (#1). For #14 we could use tear, tire, tore, door, tier, deer, dire, dray, tree, etc., because they all begin with the t or d sound for #1, and end with the r sound for #4. Remember that we are interested in the consonant sounds only.
Do you get the idea of how I formed those words? If you do, then I can go ahead and give you the first few "pegs". Each one of the peg words that I will give you has been specially chosen because it is comparatively easy to picture in your mind, and that is important.
Since the number 1 contains only one digit, and that one digit is represented by the t or d sound, we must use a word that contains only that one consonant sound. So, we will use the word, "TIE". From here on in, the word, "tie" will always represent the number 1 to you.
As I said, it is important to be able to picture these objects, so I will give explanations of all those where I think an explanation is necessary.
The word, "NOAH" will always represent #2. Picture an old, white haired man on an ark. The word, "MA" will always mean #3. Here I suggest that you always picture your own mother.
The word, "RYE" will always represent the number 4. You can picture either a bottle of Rye whiskey or a loaf of rye bread. Once you decide on a particular mind picture for this, or for any of the pegs, use that particular picture always. You can see how I arrive at these words. They all have only one consonant sound, and that one sound is the one representing the digit of the number.
The word, "LAW" will always represent #5. The word "law" itself, cannot be pictured; I suggest that you picture any policeman, in uniform, because they represent the law.
Number 6 is the word "SHOE." Number 7 is the word "COW." Number 8 is the word, "IVY." For this one, you can picture either Poison Ivy, or ivy growing all over the sides of a house. Number 9 is the word, "BEE." Number 10 has two digits, the digit 1 and a zero. The peg word for #10 therefore must be made up of a t or d sound and an s or z sound, in that order. We'll use the word, "TOES" —picture your own toes. Ordinarily it would be a little difficult to remember ten completely unassociated words as I have just given you. Since the peg word for any number must contain certain sounds only, you'll find that it is easy. As a matter of fact, if you have read the ten words once, with a little concentration, you probably already know them. Try it! When you say the number to yourself, think of its sound first, then try to remember the peg word. Test yourself in and out of order. You should know that # 3 is "ma," without repeating, "tie", "Noah", ma! To show you how fantastic your memory can be with my little memory aids, you can do this until the words become second nature to you. If you come to a number, and you think you can't remember its peg—think of the sound for that number, and say any words that come to your mind, starting with, and containing that particular consonant sound only. When you say the right one, it will sort of "ring a bell" in your mind, and you'll know that that's the right one. For instance, if you couldn't think of the peg word for #1, you might say to yourself, "toy, tow, tea, tie"; as soon as you say "tie", you'll know that that is the correct word. You can see, now, what I've done. I have built you up slowly with each item. First I gave you an aid to remember the phonetic sounds, now those sounds are your aid to remember the very important peg words; and the peg words will help you to remember anything where numbers are involved, so make sure you know them well.
| 1. tie
|| 6. shoe|
| 2. Noah
|| 7. cow|
| 3. ma
|| 8. ivy|
| 4. rye
|| 9. bee|
| 5. law
|| 10. toes|
Now, if you feel that you know the first ten peg words thoroughly, I'll show you how to use them for remembering objects in and out of order. I'll give you ten objects, out of sequence, and prove to you that you can remember them after reading them only once!
| 9 — purse
|| 5 — typewriter|
| 6 — cigarette
|| 2 — TV set|
| 4 — ashtray
|| 8 — wrist watch|
| 7 — salt-shaker
|| 1 — fountain pen|
| 3 — lamp
|| 10 — telephone |
The first one listed is #9—purse. All you have to do is to make a ridiculous and/or illogical association of the peg word for #9, which is "bee", and purse. If you have realized the importance of actually "seeing" these ridiculous associations in your mind, you'll have no trouble. For this first one, you might see yourself opening a purse and a swarm of bees fly out of it, stinging you. Just "see" the picture for a moment, then go to the next one.
#6(shoe)—cigarette. You can see yourself smoking a shoe instead of a cigarette, see millions of cigarettes falling out of a shoe, or you can see yourself wearing gigantic cigarettes instead of shoes.
#4(rye)—ashtray. You might see yourself dropping ashes into a scooped out loaf of rye bread instead of an ashtray, or, you're buttering an ashtray instead of a slice of rye bread.
I am giving you one or more ways that each object can be associated ridiculously with its peg word. You are to use only one of these pictures for each one. Use one that I give, or one that you think of yourself. The first illogical picture that comes to mind is usually the best one to use, because that is the one that will come to mind later on. I'll help you with all ten of them, since it is the first time you are attempting this method; but after this you should be able to do it without my help.
#7(cow)-salt-shaker. Picture yourself milking a cow, but the cow has salt-shakers instead of udders. Or, see saltshakers coming out instead of milk.
#3(ma) -lamp. You can picture your mother wearing a gigantic lamp for a hat. See the lamp going on and off. (Action-Rule #2.)
#5 (law) -typewriter. You might "see" a policeman putting handcuffs on a typewriter, or you can see a typewriter walking the beat, swinging a club, like a cop.
#2 (Noah) -Television set. You might picture Noah sailing on a television set instead of an ark.
#8(ivy)-wrist watch. You can see millions of wrist watches growing all over the side of your house, instead of ivy; or, you can see yourself wearing ivy on your wrist instead of a watch.
# 1 (tie)-fountain pen. Picture yourself wearing a gigantic fountain pen instead of a tie, or you might see yourself writing with your tie, instead of a fountain pen.
# 10 (toes) -telephone. See yourself dialing with your toes, or, you pick up the telephone, but it turns out that you're holding your toes. (Probably talking to a heel.)
Now-take a piece of paper, number it from one to ten, and try to fill in the objects in order, without looking at the book. When you come to #1, just picture your peg word, tie, and the ridiculous picture of you wearing a fountain pen instead of a tie will come back to you immediately. So you know that # 1 is fountain pen. When you picture Noah, you will see him on a television set instead of an ark; so you know that # 2 is television set.
You will remember them all quite easily. The wonderful part about it, is that you also know them out of sequence. You can see, of course, that it makes no difference. You can also call them off backwards-just think of the peg word for # 10 (toes) and work up to "tie."
You should now be thoroughly amazed at your own ability. But wait! Why not memorize twenty-five objects instead of only ten? Well, at the end of this chapter you will find the peg words for numbers 11 through to 25. Please learn those just as you learned the first ten. When you know them perfectly, try this on your friends. Have them number a sheet of paper from one to twenty or twenty-five, or as many as you wish to show off with. Then have him call out any of those numbers, haphazardly, and then name any tangible object. Ask him to write that object alongside the number called. Have him do that until every number has an object next to it. Now call them right back to him from # 1 right down to the last one. Then have him call any number, and you immediately give him the object, or have him call any object and you tell him what number it is!!
Don't let that last part throw you, there is nothing to it. If I was to ask you now what number salt-shaker was, you would "see" the ridiculous picture of a cow with saltshakers instead of udders. Since "cow" is the peg for #7, then you know that salt-shaker was #7.
Watch the look of astonishment on your pal's face when you're through! -Please do not go on to the next chapter until you are sure that you know all the peg words from 1 to 25.
| 11. tot
|| 15. towel
|| 19. tub
|| 23. name|
| 12. tin
|| 16. dish
|| 20. nose
|| 24. Nero |
| 13. tomb
|| 17. tack
|| 21. net
|| 25. nail|
| 14. tire
|| 18. dove
|| 22. nun
For "tot", it is best to picture a child that you know.
For #12, you can see the object called, made out of "tin." For "tomb," picture a gravestone. For #20, you can see the object called, on your face in place of your "nose." For "net," you can use either a fishing net, a hair net, or a tennis net.
For #23, you can see the object you wish to remember forming your "name." For instance, if the object were cigarette, you would picture your own name printed out very large with cigarettes. If you don't care for that idea, you might picture one of your business cards for "name", or any other possession that has your name on it. Whatever you decide on, you must use it all the time. For "Nero", I always picture a man playing a fiddle.
Remember, please, that once you decide on a particular picture for any of the peg words, you are to use that picture all the time.
If you know the pegs from 1 to 25 thoroughly, (and I suggest that you go no further until you do), and if you feel confident, (or even if you don't) why not take test #2 in Chapter #3 once again. Try it, and then compare your present score with the original one!
Uses of the Peg and Link Systems