イギリス: is Wanikani wrong on purpose?

I am not complaining about the Japanese language directly more about the WaniKani software actually.

I am from Scotland and this sounds like the approach to take thanks

1 Like

I think also WaniKani will try to help out their users by adding common synonyms. Obviously it’s not true that English = British, but sadly it’s part of the common perception in America and probably many other places. WaniKani wants to avoid frustrating its users and driving them away by being too rigorous in their allowed answers, even more so on the free levels when the user is just test-driving the site.


heh, on this one I added “Brit” as the synonym because it’s shorter.


You can also submit a error on the word and contact the team to see if you can get it changed. It may have been something that was translated into a synonym that just went under the radar of someone that thought those were the same thing. WaniKani is not perfect, but it does get you to recognize general meanings of sooooooo many kanji really quickly. The point of that vocab word is to give you an example of using 人 with a nationality. The exact nationality isn’t really as important for understanding the kanji (which is the point of wanikani)


You’re all missing the real reason


Based on my experience (having worked in about 40 countries) I believe that you will find that the vast majority of the world does not understand or grasp the differences which matter to those that live there. I am in no way implying it is not important (to you or others), I am just sharing observations. Also, it is something I found quite interesting when I first found myself in an environment where I needed to sort it out.

I was not born there and do not live there (have worked there) and I freely admit that until it was explained to me I did not understand. I was going to say I “was confused” but that would not be accurate as it was something that I would never have even thought about ,until I needed too. Being Canadian, I do have somewhat of a connection, sharing a monarch and spelling words differently than my neighboUrs to the south. Well they are not my neighbours any longer as I live in Japan these days.

I have worked in more than one place where the difference between American and Canadian is not understood. Ohh, your from Canada. What state is that in?

Of course, the fact that at something like the Rugby World Cup which to most is thought of as countries competing against countries, has independent entries from Wales, Scotland and England can confuse matters. Scotland has an international entry for World Cup (soccer/football) but participates as part of Team GB in Olympics. More confusion for those of us on the “outside”.

Let’s save Dutch/Holland/Netherlands for another discussion :blush:



I wouldnt want to submit an error to the team if as it appears so far that this is actually the way the word is used in Japanese. I understand the purpose of the vocabulary is to help me learn Kanji but in this process I feared that I would memorize the wrong meaning of certain vocabulary.

1 Like

I am an Englishman who has lived in Germany for many years, in fact I now have dual nationality. When people notice my accent they invariably ask me if I’m English. I think that this is less to do with ignorance, than an association of the language with the name of the country. I equally invariably reply that I am British by birth. The Scots, the Welsh and those in Northern Ireland who consider themselves to be British generally feel, rightly, insulted by being thought or called English, since to them, and to any Briton, their provenance is obvious. As far as I know there is now word in Japanese which corresponds phonetically to the word British or Britain. But I will doubtless be corrected on this.


You could add another circle for British Commonwealth, though I am not sure what that entails exactly.

1 Like


jö! have you never been called a german? i have. i think we can actually relate somewhat with OP being from scotland. especially people from tyrol - you know having such a harsh dialect that many other german speakers can’t even understand you anymore? :smile:


Yeah, look: you are applying a level of geographic specificity and sensitivity that many culutures fail to care about because of how those cultures have learned geography and it happens to everyone.

There’s a difference between Holland and the Netherlands, but people use each synonymously. In Spanish, they only use the word Hollanda. There’s a difference between America the two continents and America as in the U.S, and you’ll piss of South Americans when you fail to dinstiguish cavalierly. There’s a difference between Arab and Middle Eastern. There’s a difference between the former Soviet Union and Russia. People speaking fast and loose about history and geography just fly by these distinctions.

The unfortunate fact is that many people around the world do not care to distinguish between England, Britain, and the U.K because they hear the terms interchangeably but no one explains what they mean individually, so they just assume it’s all one and the same. Especially because the country consists of those 4 political parts and the language it speaks is called English.

It’s not sloppy translation: it’s realistic translation based on realistically sloppy geography knowledge.

You’ll find Japanese people with quite surprising views about how the world outside Japan works and vice versa. Some of it will betray a level of ignorance.


This was my first thought as well when I saw that definition (as in, I assumed that was the reasoning behind the Japanese usage of イギリス人). I do know the UK is a union of countries, but from an outside perspective they act as one country internationally, one that speaks English.

So English has become synonymous with being British. In fact, much like with Holland being a region in the Netherlands which is also used to refer to the the entire country, England has also become synonymous with the entire UK. If someone say they’re from England, I won’t assume they’re actually from England, just the UK. It’s not a stretch of the imagination that to Japanese people, they also don’t consider the difference.

It’s too late to do anything about this now, now that this use of “English” was become a global thing. This is the world we live in. :woman_shrugging:


I checked a few dictionaries and it looks like イギリス can only be translated as The UK. Hence, イギリス人 is a British person.

Just like The Netherlands is オランダ (Holland). These are old names that probably changed their meaning to correspond to the modern political geography.

Now, I’d say that it’s wrong to call UK England but many people confuse these terms anyway. The primary meaning of the vocab is “British person”. But WK so has “English person” as a synonym to avoid frustrating users who don’t knpw the difference.

WK listens to user feedback. I suggested changing the primary meaning of 小麦粉 to “wheat flour” (it wasn’t even an accepted answer before) and they did it in an update. The meaning used to be “flour”, since most people don’t even think about which grain is used to make thag flour. I like to bake, so I do know it. And it was frustrating to fail a burn because wheat flour wasn’t accepted. But I wouldn’t ask them to remove the “flour” synonym, since many people say “flour” assuming wheat flour.


Out of curiosity, (and since it’s somewhat related here) what is the way that people from Northern Ireland express that they are a citizen of the United Kingdom, since they are not from the island of Great Britain? Is it still British because it’s part of the British Isles? (And second question, do Irish people actually use the term British Isles?)

Edit: I know they could just explain where they’re from, but is there a single word that’s commonly used?


That will depend on what part of the community they are from. The north of Ireland / Northern Ireland has a very turbulent past and to be honest present with conflict between unionist (who would see themselves as British) and Republicans (who would see themselves as Irish).

Edit: this is my understanding having worked with different communities in NI. I am not from NI.


And this isn’t a WaniKani issue but a general Japanese language issue. It’s the same in text books. When we did this in my evening class せんせい had to individually help us all learn what to say for ourselves (it was a very international class as well as having all four nation of the UK represented)

Last time I was in Japan I had to explain the difference to an American hike guide. Explaining how angry a Scottish person would get if you called them English was hard for him to grasp.

But it’s about the same level of anger I’ll have if you call me an EnglishMAN! :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

1 Like

I learned about the differences from a YT video

(and yes, there is a Dutch video as well)

But to be fair, I’ve never heard the term ‘British Islands’ before (unlike the British Isles), and am again shocked that the Isle of Man isn’t part of the UK?
…and I don’t expect Japanese to have distinct terms for all of these - at least not in common speech.