生 will be the death of me

生 aka
せい
しょう
じょう
なま




= 必死

助けてください!!
Can anyone offer a hack for remembering when to use each reading?

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No, but don’t stress. As you learn more vocab, and start to read more, you’ll recognise it in a lot of contexts. You’ll also meet a number of other equally frustrating kanji.

Also, I love the irony of suggesting that a character which means life will be the death of you :joy:

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I think it’s the wrong approach to handle this as though you are going to be finding 生 in the wild and then go through your mental list of all possible readings.

When you learn it on WaniKani, you start by learning a reading, yes, but you then go on to learn the words.

Then it’s just a matter of knowing the words.

I don’t think of 誕生日 as being たん + じょう + び in my head when I see it. I don’t accidentally think it might be たんせいび or たんきび.

Because たんじょうび is such a common word and is fully ingrained in my memory. Outside of how it is written in kanji. So I just see the word as a whole.

This is how it will come to be for other words that use it over time as you get exposure to those words and they become similarly ingrained.

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Haha catchy titles get the most traction right :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: I like your idea of using context though, it’d probably be good to start searching for exposure to its usage elsewhere!

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Memorizing multiple readings is a waste of time my friend because it’s not like they’re going to help you read words you haven’t seen before. A much more effective and natural approach is to learn the readings as you learn new vocabulary. Take it from this article by Tae Kim: You can’t “learn” Kanji!!

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As Leebo said, there’s some magic that happens, and you simply “feel” one reading rather than other. Same goes for 人 = ひと、にん、じん。。。it drives you crazy for a while, then suddenly you start guessing it right. Just trust the process, and don’t stress out too much.

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This drives me crazy, too! Good luck.

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Yes yes follow Leebo’s advice! Learn the individual words. Don’t expect to know all the possible words if you know all the kanji and their readings, that’s like expecting to know all the possible words in english from just knowing the alphabet (albeit without meaning). Learning the kanji just helps make reading words familiar but you still have to treat each vocab item individually.

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Life tends to be the death of most of us.

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The only things that are guaranteed in life are death and taxes.

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生 is a member of a cult, there are many of them…

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I agree with learning readings as parts of words as opposed to separately, but I find that if it’s part of a food or drink (most commonly 生クリーム or 生ビール), it’s almost always なま.
Maybe think of how the sound for eating is nom nom nom?

Ex:


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I feel the pain, though I feel like the most common reading is still せい and なま in vocabulary

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Seems the consensus is that context is key! I’m mostly struggling when an old word with “生” comes up in enlightened/burned reviews. Looks like its time to search for these vocab words in the real world. Thanks guys!

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I appreciate your title pun.

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When I first started learning Kanji, I did it all wrong. Even though my wife suggested that I focus on words rather than individual Kanji, I was adamant about memorizing all the various readings. Of course int the case of 生 it was just a handful of readings.

So I bought some Kanji books from various bookstores in Tokyo. Most of them didn’t focus on radicals but rather trying to show how a given Kanji came about pictorially. Of course this is a straightforward process for some Kanji but it required huge about of contortion for most Kanji.

Second, I focused on writing. I didn’t consider a given Kanji learned until I had the stroke order down. Needless to say this wasn’t very productive.

So yes, I completely agree with others who say to focus on words rather than Kanji. Similar to English we don’t read each letter separately when reading sentences.

I think of kanji as being kind of like all those Greek and Latin word parts we use in English.

If you know generally what things like tele- and photo- and a- and -ology and -ation and so on mean, then you can often guess what a word that contains them means. Aphotonic! Ferrophilia! Telemancy! But no one really sits down and studies those and memorizes them… well maybe some people do in school or something, I dunno. But my point is, they’re useful clues and that’s great but ideally you would just learn the words. And then if you know the words, you can probably guess what the parts mean (it’s English, so we already know the readings) by going backwards…

Thing is, WK is trying to make acquiring Japanese easy by introducing new information slowly, so they do it in bits: first you learn a radical and a meaning by sight, then you learn a reading for the radical you already know (or later on, combinations of radicals), and then you learn some vocab words that are all variationson the kanji you already know, and some of them use the reading you already know, and some introduce a new reading. But the end result, hopefully, is that you know a bunch of words.

For some kanji, I just get the reading without any thought process.
This is not a matter of previous exposure. Did not even pass a lot of time on the lessons, I just got it.
And I can not explain why.

I’d like it to be the case for my pet peeves (先 for example >__<)

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