is copyright Michael Curtis 2010-2022. All Rights Reserved.



You create a mnemonic story as a way to memorise information. At a peg loci location, you might imagine a farmer throwing a banana at a dinosaur; and that would mean something to you (this is just an example - I have no idea what it might mean to you!).

When you come to recall the facts, you imagine your peg location and hopefully you recall the farmer doing an action to the dinosaur. The action is as important as the objects because it probably means something and it helps to bind the overall story together into something memorable.

Maybe there is a system of 12 actions where each action represents a month of the year (April); so maybe the farmer means the 10th and the dinosaur means 2002AD; and the overall story means the date: the 10th April 2002.

So the actions, as well as the imagined objects, can contribute to the knowledge being stored in the imaginary story taking place at the peg location.

I built quite a big list of actions which I present at the links below. It is a list of 1001 actions and, in most cases, the action relates to a word from the Shorthand system article (a bit further along in this course).

The 1001 subset list of shorthand vocabulary will take time to learn; so there is the added incentive of simultaneously learning an actions memory system as well. About a quarter of the actions do not relate to their associated Shorthand word. After item 000, the next 200 or so Shorthand words relate to words in Chinese called 'radicals' which have their own numbered order; once you get past item 216, there is an alphabetical order to the Shorthand codes.

I like the idea that a student would know a memory system of over 1000 common words; and then, when learning a foreign language, these already known images would be imagined in stories where the spelling or sound of the foreign word is somehow visualised.

Moreover, for some reason, I like studying languages or linguistics. I am intrigued by the question of which minimum vocabulary people could use to be understood; and that has had some effect on the Shorthand system which I developed.

Actions List 1

Actions List 2

Actions List 3

Actions List 4

I think that 'Actions' are 'hard to sell' when encouraging a student to spend time on it. It is of great use to someone who is trying to remember numbers bigger than 3 digits because the person in the story can be a number, the action can be a 3 digit number, and the object of the action can be a number as well. (The idea of there being a person, an action and an object is attributed to Dominic O'Brien.)

1258754, seen as 12 587 54 can be pictured as person 12 doing action 587 to person 54.

Actions are also useful for speed memorisation games because the imaginary mnemonic story requires no thinking time to be spent on deciding what story takes place at a peg location: the action is a necessary part of the story since it represents one of the items being memorised.

Eg. The person representing the Queen of Hearts does an action representing the 2 of Clubs to a person representing the Jack of Diamonds.

I think that actions can also be used for memorising vocabulary; for example, 'fromage' means cheese. What if you could imagine a person (who represents 2 letters of the alphabet [FR]) doing an action [OM] (which represents 2 letters of the alphabet) on an image of cheese; effectively, 4 letters of the spelling of 'fromage' would be represented by the story. I don't mean that this gives you instant use of the foreign word in conversational French; I mean that you have a prompt in exam conditions or as a set of revision notes that you can mentally visit.

I would probably learn an actions system only after having learned a big system of peg locations and a broad number of memory images for spelling prompts. I think that actions are excellent though for spelling prompts; and that is the main reason why I would want to use them.

An AA-ZZ system of actions can be made by using 301-325 of the 1000 action system as AA-AY;

326-350 of the 1000 action system as BA-BY;

351-375 of the 1000 action system as CA-CY;

376-400 of the 1000 action system as DA-DY;

and so on. The 26 letter pairs ending in Z can be represented by 951=ZA, 952 = ZB, 953 = ZC, and so on.

300 is ZZ

Here is a table of action letter pairs.

Furthermore, 275-299 can represent A to Y; and 274 can be Z.

More letters can be covered by the imagined story if the person doing the action represents 3 letters. [I write more about that in the Taxi Driver article]. It is the assumption that the 'word' associated with an action should have its first 3 letters treated as a spelling prompt. Eg. Action 325, in the action list, is 'Fantasy'; so an action that normally implies 'Fantasy' would, in this case, imply 'FAN' spelling: the first 3 letters of 'Fantasy'.