Are radicals really any use?

Thanks for the thoughtful response. I’m a bit different in my learning I guess- I’m happy to take the long road here, to me it’s a more satisfying road.

Your reference to songs is a good one. I’ve downloaded a heap and play them in my car and also watch a heap on youtube. At first they were mostly gibberish but the words are far more clear after a few weeks only- even if I don’t know the meanings yet I can hear the different words more clearly. Also some have really stuck in my mind, as songs can do, and this is helping me learn and remember a whole song adding a bunch of words to my vocabulary in natural and fun way. :slight_smile:

With the whole kanji explanation you have here comes another issue I have with radicals. Yes some make perfect sense- onna the woman kanji is in sister kanji for example- what more natural connection than that? However it is also in other kanji that have no connection to women so just having some connect and others not makes it incredibly frustrating. An example of how another site connects suki 好き with women is to say they ‘like’ having babies! How random is that? It just doesn’t work for me- learning random associations is just to me using up precious memory space that could be used to learn a few more words instead.

As an unofficial “radical”, would you rather 本 in 体 be “book” or “real”? And then most words that use the kanji, such as 本物, 日本, 本当, 本来, 本社, 本流, etc. don’t use the “book” meaning. Actually I can’t think of any other than 本屋.

I mean, as I said, there’s lots to complain about. But I don’t think this is the one to pick on.

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ooh, being able to look up kanji by the radical would be amazing. The kanji dictionary apps I’ve seen seem to all rely on stroke order to recognise the kanji which again it’s too early for me to be filling my head with that detail. So this aspect of radicals I can very much see being useful to me. Thankyou. :slight_smile:

haha nice explanation thanks. :slight_smile:

Thanks! All the responses here and been amazing. I love that the community is so active and willing to help. :slight_smile:

I use Akebi which lets you select from a list of radicals and narrows down there remaining radicals and kanji as you do so.


I’m sure other apps do this too.

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Are you telling me that Japanese kids learning kanji are not aware of all the things Kouichi does?

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Yes but unless the symbols have meaning in themselves (as in kanji/words in themselves) is it needed to learn them learn? It seems like the consensus is there is no consensus- some find them helpful, some not. Some find them annoying- like I do. :wink: But they are forced on us regardless.

It’s okay though, it shouldn’t take too long to get through them and hopefully they won’t be too annoying, especially since I can change the answers with synonyms to actual japanese kanji/kana that actually make sense for me to use. Also some of the positive answers here have helped me see other ways to use the radicals I hadn’t thought of before. :slight_smile:

Ah yeah stroke order’s the other important thing for looking stuff up. Both methods do get used quite a bit though so they’re both kind of useful for that. That and like stroke counts. Jisho at least does have the radical method for looking up characters, I know, off the top of my head.

And sure thing!

“And do remember that if you’re desperate to give “book” as your answer to that radical, you can just add a synonym to it. I think I did that myself too.”

Or even better “hon”. Sadly you can make kana (ほん) as a synonym but it won’t be recognised in your answers. It’s too technically difficult to do that at the moment apparently.

I didn’t say it could be better, this post was pretty much asking other people’s experience of the radicals here. The response has been fantastic, including some replies that convince me radicals can be useful even for me, so I’m really glad I made it. :slight_smile:

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WK is inconsistent all the time so this is a losing battle :grinning:

I can’t tell if this was meant seriously or not tbh but just in case, yeah, it does happen to be useful to know one meaning for a kanji even if a different meaning gets used on store signs. Lots of kanji have more than one important meaning.

My point was never that WK’s handling of this is perfect. Maybe it truly is a better idea to have the “book” meaning on the radical. I don’t even care about that. By having “real” on the radical instead of “book”, how much does this affect? You learn the “real” meaning a few days earlier than you would have, and you learn the “book” meaning a few days later than you would have. By a week or two later you should know both meanings either way as long as you are doing the learning “properly” (whatever that means), so it quickly stops mattering.

I just want to encourage taking that sort of perspective in general: Learning a less-important/common meaning of something before a more-important/common meaning of it isn’t something that needs to be avoided like the plague, since in the end you’re gonna want to know both anyway and you have to learn them both. It happens all the time in immersed/“in-the-wild” language learning anyway: the first time you see a vocab word happens to be a time it’s being used with like the 4th most common meaning. At the time it feels too difficult to learn 4 meanings for the same word and you just naturally remember the one that you actually have context for. Then when you later you come across it again and find that the less-common meaning you learned doesn’t make much sense in a new context, then you learn more. I feel it’s good to get comfortable with the idea that this will just happen sometimes and that there are better things to worry about.

In the end I just like to direct complaints away from things that are less worth caring about. One can only complain about so many things at a time after all, might as well not waste that energy too much :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the response. :slight_smile: Makes perfect sense.

Thanks yeah I think it will be of limited use for some of the harder to remember ones- my only real concern is if they are forced on you too much here after the initial stage. But I’m sticking around to find out for sure. :slight_smile:

Yeah it’s annoying but I have already started and will definitely be making full use of the synonym option. :slight_smile: Takes a bit more effort at first especially since the first run through you don’t seem to have the option of adding one anywhere. But worth it for my sanity in the long run.

May I introduce you to


I probably complain about WK half as much after discovering and installing this script :slight_smile:

Personally I don’t see why we should have to add the real meaning options as synonyms. This is what annoyed me right away, typing in いち for 一 and then desperately trying ichi and then one and nothing being accepted. Forcing to learn unrelated meanings is irrelevant to learning the actual kanji which is what we are here to learn. For some of us at least. It’s just a personal opinion. But I think a fair observation.

Thanks I’ll check that out. :slight_smile:

WK have said that adding any meanings to radicals that belong to kanji with the same shape is something they plan to do in the currently-in-progress-but-with-no-ETA radical overhaul. These will be invisible to the user, but still accepted as correct.

So, they agree with you. It just hasn’t been implemented yet.

It doesn’t matter which words are associated with the radicals, they are a means to an end- a way to help us learn more kanji and the words they make up. I have no problem with their making up words for the radicals, even when they actually have a meaning elsewhere (kanji or kana) but the option NOT to have to learn their meaning should be there if we already know one that exists in Japanese. We already know one (or more) so why add another random word to our learning?