Add new radicals to simplify mnemonics

As an example, we learned forehead and car as radicals for the army kanji 軍. For 揮, we are using fingers along with forehead and car again.

Why not add as a radical 軍? That way we could use just fingers and “army” to remember 揮?

In general, if a set of radicals exists as a kanji, it seems simpler to add a radical that’s the same as the kanji so we don’t have so many kanji with 3+ radicals.


It wouldnt match using a dictionary search, maybe? You can search for kanji by radical and that one’s not in the list to search by… at least, not by my Takoboto app

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I actually think it’s one the worst thing about WK. Especially in later level, instead of turning old kanji into new radical, they keep decomposing complex kanji into many pieces and as a result the mnemonic are super convoluted and doesn’t work anymore.

Here are some examples I remember:
務 (level 21) → 霧 (level 47) but wk teach it as 雨 Rain+矛 Spear+夂 Winter+力 Power
徴 (level 26) → 懲 (level 43) but wk teach it as 彳 Loiter+ 山 Mountain+王 King+夂 Winter
解 (level 21) → 蟹 (level 50) but wk teach it as 角 Angle+刀 Sword+牛 Cow+虫 Insect
死 (level 6) → 葬 (level 37) but wk teach it as 艹 Flowers+歹 Yakuza+匕 Spoon+ 廾 Twenty

The last one is especially infuriating because 葬 means burial and clearly the death component 死 in the middle play a semantic role. Why even inventing a mnemonic with yakuza and spoon and whatnot when the meaning already scream at us…

And sometimes there is also some entire series of kanji containing the same subkanji (with often a similar onyomi) like for example :
利 → 莉 痢 梨
蒦 → 獲 穫 護
I think WK should introduce first 利 and 蒦 as radical.


Yikes, those are very, very bad. I think at a certain point you just have to make up your own mnemonics and add it in the “meaning” and “reading” notes section and ignore the convoluted official ones.


They do this a lot (and we get threads from people asking why they do it as well), but they could do it more, yeah.


I’m also on team “make your own mnemonics”, and write them in the notes section. It ends up also reinforcing those kanji, because you’re thinking about them more often. I imagine the reason they don’t is because a lot of kanji have abstract meanings, so it isn’t as easy to turn them into mnemonics? I wouldn’t have minded having more radicals in the last 20 levels.


I just wish the radical shapes were all official. Searching by radical on jisho would be so much easier knowing which radicals to look for.

Even Jisho’s tool is just cobbling things together in their own way. I guess you are saying you want “someone” to standardize them?

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I actually didnt know about Jisho’s method. I assumed there is a standardized radical system taught in Japan, which is used on Jisho. If thats not the case I think a standardized system would be useful in searching up kanji. I come across some words which are made of 2 kanji - neither of which I know. Without furigana (which isnt used often in the novel im reading) it is frustrating to look up a new word.

Well, then you’re getting into the use of the word “radical.” Japan’s government does have a list of radicals whereby you can match every kanji used in compulsory education with its designated radical.

But that’s the meaning of “radical” where each kanji only has 1. So the radical of 務 is 力. That kanji has no other radicals under that system.

And when Japanese people use paper dictionaries to look up kanji, they would find 務 under the section for 力.

That’s obviously quite different from Jisho, where you can choose a bunch of different elements that exist inside the kanji beyond the one radical and use that to look them up. Those other elements are not standardized anywhere.

Is the left side of 務 made of マ and オ (just grabbing some parts that look similar)? Or is it one element that is 矛? There’s no standardized answer to that question. You could trace things back to how they were originally written when they still looked like pictures, but then you’d occasionally end up with conflicting situations between visually identical modern kanji elements. The 務 example probably isn’t the best one, since most people aren’t going to have trouble decomposing it, but yeah.


Glad to see this explained so well. Thanks!

So, I didn’t really imagine things when I though that the kanji for institution 院 should’ve had a mnemonic about a perfect building, not whatever they did instead, because that’s pretty much how institutions as a concept is understood. And since the meaning was pretty obvious, I made my own mnemonic based on this for this kanji.

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院 is level 9 and 完 is level 14 so maybe it doesn’t work that well in this case, but on the other hand maybe it would make sense to learn 完 slightly earlier and 院 slightly later just to be able to reuse 完. I don’t know :thinking:


And 完 is a phonetic element in 院 (which is to say the meaning is "the kind of structure that sounds like 完, though the direct phonetic link has been lost over time, and it appears that this was probably originally something like a fence or mud wall, and later expanded to also mean buildings often surrounded by those), but maybe the ancient Chinese really did have that kind of confidence in their institutions as well :slight_smile:


縮 => thread + lodge 宿
縮 => thread + leader + roof + hundred

Once you know the kanji for lodge, no one is going to SEE leader, roof, hundred.

Please fix this. The benefits seem straightforward.

I wholeheartedly agree with this, I was baffled when learning 縮 now and seeing that WK is pretty much trying to force you to try to not see the kanji 宿, which seems completely antithetical to what a kanji learning site should do

I know I’m late to this, but I really think that doing something about this should be moved up on WaniKani’s to-do list and that this is worthy of being brought back to attention

Edit: On this same level (34) is also 縦, which WK divides into thread+loiter+horns+correct even though we have already learned 糸 (lv. 4) and 従 (lv. 26)!


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