non sibi sed toti

Classics Teaching Resources

Remembering dates and other numbers

Most people find it easier to remember words than numbers.
To remember dates and other numbers, it is possible to convert them into numbers, using an ancient substitution code.

1 = t (one upright stroke)
also d (voiced equivalent)
2 = n (two upright strokes)

3 = m (three upright strokes)

4 = r (think fouR)

5 = L (hold your left hand palm down, thumb out.
The five fingers make an L)

6 = J (rather like a 6 written backwards)
also ch and sh (unvoiced equivalents)
7 = K (Kelloggs 'K' is made of two 7s)
also hard C, and G (voiced equivalent)
8 = f (like the two loops of a handwritten f)
also V (voiced equivalent)
9 = P (rather like 9 written backwards)
also B (voiced equivalent)
0 = Z (think of Zero)
also S and soft C (unvoiced equivalent)

To remember any date, convert the figures into consonants using the above code. Then use those consonants, with any vowels you like, to form words or phrases. Follow the sounds rather than the spelling.

Example 1: William of Orange arrived in England in 1688. 1688 = d ch f f. Perhaps 'Dutch fife', thinking of King Billy bringing the fife to the Orangemen!

Example 2: Dates of the Peloponnesian War. At the start the Athenians 'rammed' the Spartans with their triremes. (r - m - d = 431) In the end, the Spartans came to Athens shouting 'Erase her!' (r - s - r = 404)

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