Are radicals really any use?

Oh man I thought I’d only need to use the synonyms for radicals. WaniKani only accepts one answer for kanji when there are several correct answers also? Wow, I definitely need this script. That will drive me insane typing correct answers in and having them fail every time.

If you ever think they don’t have a meaning that represents a commonly understood meaning of a kanji, they will add it if you send them an email. Radicals are meant to have one name because they are used for mnemonics. I don’t know how you got to the understanding you expressed in this post.

They aren’t, however, going to add every single possible way of phrasing an idea. They’ll put a couple, but when English has dozens of words for the same concept, they’re just going to choose one or two.

Yeah the point you’re arguing there is separate from the one I was making, and I agree with you here. If you already know a valid meaning for a radical and WK doesn’t have it as an answer, you should definitely add it as a synonym and just use that (and look forward to when the system is improved so that you don’t have to add it manually yourself).

My argument there was focused on the case where, before seeing the item here, you don’t already know it, and the meaning that WK offers you is a valid one but not the most common. Since I was responding to a particular person’s comment, I think it was somewhat detached from your main issue. You don’t have to force yourself to learn completely made-up meanings for stuff if you don’t want them for their potential mnemonic value.

You should test WK to level 3 before jumping to conclusions at ever possible turn :wink: [At least unlock a kanji first to see how it is acutally like.]

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I got the idea from having to add ‘destiny’ to the ‘fate’ kanji. If that is just an odd one out that’s a relief. Thanks for putting me straight. :slight_smile:

Just going by an example given here but definitely giving this a good go as I said.

Fate covers the “concept” that destiny is a synonym of. I don’t regard that as WaniKani missing one of the meanings of 命. However, they didn’t include the “life” meaning, and so I have it as a user synonym.

“Life” is an oversight on their part, imo, “destiny” is not, because “fate” is there.

Just wanted to say that WK accepts any of the multiple correct answers that often exist :slight_smile:

Fate is still correct. I understand the program has limitations and being prepared for them will make my experience using it less frustrating.

Thank you. That is great to know. I’m sure there will be omissions but it’s a relief to know it won’t be the norm.

Maybe this has been discussed already in this thread though I didn’t notice it. Learning radicals is useful for much more than the little mnemonic stories that WaniKani provides.

Some of them add a phonetic component to kanji, which can be a great help in remembering how to read certain kanji. For example, the radical known here as “Ox” (the right part of 僚) gives the reading りょう to kanji that feature it.

Likewise, some radicals give a hint to the meaning of a certain kanji. For example, kanji with the radical known here as “fish stick” (the left part of 情) have to do mainly with human feelings.

Of course the ideal is to eventually see a kanji as a whole without reconstructing its meaning or reading from the component parts. But in the short term, when you’re trying to learn a lot of kanji quickly, as is possible here, radicals are an invaluable tool.

In my second post I mentioned categorization radicals that reflect meaning in a broad sense, and phonetic components.

Of course 尞 would not be a radical in that sense.

I find them useful to make kanji more coherent, so that they are less a bunch of strokes and lines and more a collection of recognizable shapes. Getting familiar with the various pieces that make them up helps, I find, and some of the story mnemonics that are constructed around the radicals that make up a kanji can help with memory. That might be more for people like me, fluent in a language with a single alphabet with letters that have no more than three or four strokes maximum, to whom some of the more involved kanji look like an intimidating bunch of lines. Human beings look for patterns and shapes, so imho getting familiar with the elements that make up kanji helps enormously with learning.

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This response is just my insight that I developed on the spot. I can see there are a LOT of paragraph responses and just hope this doesn’t get drowned out.

I think I understand how you feel about learning radicals. In level 1, the radicals are so oversimplified just for the absolute beginner and those radicals DO get absolutely forgotten at some point. Since you’re not a beginner to Kanji, they really don’t have any purpose to you, so I can see how this type of start can be annoyingly slow. If I was in your spot just starting to get into Wanikani, I would totally just cheat the system for a while until I actually learned something new or got caught up.
Onto how this system of radicals work, the entire idea is something that you’re going to perform whether you consciously want to or not. Every new kanji you learn will eventually turn into a “radical” for other kanji which is where your brain will start making Kanji learning a lot easier. (I will usually change the meaning of these radicals to reflect their original kanji on Wanikani) A lot of radicals on here don’t actually a kanji they come from though, and that’s where debate sparks about the purpose of their existence. The “enclosure” radical comes to mind. Those random couple of strokes in kanji mean nothing other than to distinguish it from other kanji. In these cases, there might be benefit to ignoring these to use your time elsewhere. That’s all I got. Hope I helped.

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Thanks, I’m more going for the seeing the whole meaning from the start idea but hoping having to learn the radicals to get to the kanji here will have some benefit at least for me.

And here I am worrying about using mnemonic, because I might remember every horrible story in the mnemonic every time I try to use a word.


I’m also Australian, but I love radicals + mnemonics. I think they’re really effective for learning kanji. I found it super weird at first, but it’s really grown on me over the years. And it’s pretty addictive.

I think the thing to remember is:
WK = Radicals + Mnemonics + SRS

If you don’t find radicals and mnemonics useful, I’d suggest just using an SRS alternative like Anki (or to learn kanji. You’re really paying for all the hard work they’ve done breaking kanji into radicals and creating the levels with related kanji and vocab. The awesome community is a bonus :slight_smile: But you can totally learn kanji without it.

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The first 500 kanji or so are pretty easy to learn with any method, but radicals are really useful once the kanji get more and more complex and you have 4+ radicals clumped up in a tiny square.

The problem is that if you learned the aforementioned ‘easy’ kanji by wrote you don’t really have the building blocks to apply to the more complex ones; just more wrote, which gets longer and more difficult the more complex the kanji gets. Plus you forget the details of ones you’ve already learned without adequate repetition, as it gets to the point that two complex kanji are the same with exception of one radical.

I know going along with an apparently arbitrary identifier is annoying but you don’t really need to do it for a couple days before WK will give you actual kanji to go with it; and you can get through the first few levels in a couple weeks with no problems.

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every week i feel like deja vu seeing these threads…