Content in levels 50-60, how frequent and helpful are these kanji?

I’m still far away from level 50 or 60 but I guess a lot of you know how you sometimes waste too much time fiddling around with the progress prediction on wkstats and deciding on which goal to set for yourself.

That lead to me being curious: what does the jump from level 50 to 60 feel like? Are these all still items that you come across frequently or did you already understand plenty of stuff after reaching level 50 and these are lower frequency items so you didn’t notice a significant difference anymore?

I’m wondering about this since WaniKani was originally released with only 50 levels and I’m assuming that at that point in time reaching level 50 still felt like a good accomplishment. I’ve read about these levels being considered “bonus levels” but I can’t imagine what that means in practice.

(Don’t get me wrong, I’m of course aiming for level 60 in the end; I’m just considering setting a goal to reach level 50 by a certain date and maybe then slowing down again and finishing the last 10 levels at a more relaxed pace.).

5 Likes

Hum, I’m naturally biased because I did full speed on those levels (i.e. I learned 350 kanji in 1 month). But still, I’d say it wasn’t that big of a jump, when compared to 0-10/10-20/20-30/etc.

But actual data might be your best bet. Here, I made a very good looking summary for you:

Table from https://www.wkstats.com/. I added the numbers and titles and stuff.

Nevertheless, this is still somehow significant. For Twitter for example, knowing the 50-60 kanji implies not having to deal with not knowing a kanji every 1.26 times per 100 kanji.

For anyone wondering about how to pace their progress, this is a cool exercise to do.

18 Likes

The stats @jprspereira provided above are pretty good. Other than that, it depends what you read. I’m sure the kanji in these levels are less essential than the ones in levels 20-30, for example, but they’re still useful. 瓶—びん meaning bottle (level 51) is a pretty common word, though I don’t know how often it’s written in kanji rather than hiragana.

7 Likes

I’m at 52, and while I know most kanjis I face in the wild, I can tell there are still lots of useful and common kanjis beyond 50 (and definitely even beyond 60). And of course it also depends on what content you’re aiming for. I’m aiming for hard content on the level of 人間失格 and so I would have to study more kanjis not on WK after I reach 60 (interesting thing I found out: light novels can sometimes be even harder to read than that. Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活 is an example with its abundant usage of various vocabs with super small chance of recurrence)

Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t read something hard unless I learn all those additional ones after 60. It’s just an added nuisance of having to look up things more.

5 Likes

I encountered kanji from time to time reading ご注文はうさぎですか from levels 50-60 and some that weren’t in WaniKani at all. For what that’s worth.

5 Likes

Thank you all for your replies.

Thanks!! I’ve looked at those tables at wkstats for much longer than what would be healthy and helpful but putting it this way really helped.

You are right, very true. My main goal is just being able to talk to people in Japan in a “somewhat fluent” way, depending on the topic. Everything else is just a means to an end for me. I’m enjoying the journey but if it wasn’t for learning Japanese, I would prefer consuming less media than I currently do.

The content I would mostly be interested in are topic like psychology, philosophy, self-improvement and business related topics, stuff like that… But I guess that means if I ever want to get to that point I’ll eventually need all those level 60 kanji and more.

I will probably still set a goal for reaching level 50 first just because it seems manageable to do that in 2019 and I want something that I can realistically achieve this year. And then level 60 maybe in the first quarter of next year (or as a 2019 stretch goal, we’ll see :slight_smile: ).

4 Likes

It also depends on which kanji you’re talking about. 呂 from お風呂 is a kanji that you’ll see all the time. Many others are ones I see multiple times a day.

Then you’ve got the vocab-less name kanji that are pretty hard to argue for at all.

12 Likes

I feel like it’s a bit of a hit or miss situation like Leebo sort of spoke about. Some are rather frequently used while I have yet to see a few in real life.

1 Like

Yep, I’ve encountered a small handful of kanji even in graded readers that are absent from WK. One was in the title of the book! Many kanji even in lower levels are not necessarily very high frequency, so it is a bit of a crap shoot. Sometimes you get lucky and find one not in WK and successfully guess the reading just based on patterns that seem to become more apparent from 40 on.

2 Likes

About the wkstat chart, we also have to take into account that human are really bad at gauging the difference when it come to percentage greater than 90%…

For example, the kanji coverage of Online News is 97.48% at level 50 and 99.0% at level 60. It seems such a tiny little difference, almost inconsequential, right ? But in practice, assuming we stop reading to lookup every unknown kanji, it means that we have to stop every 39 kanji at level 50, but only every 100 kanji at level 60. So, of course while being nothing as essential as lower level kanji, it still make for quite a more comfortable reading.

20 Likes

Well said. :clap:

1 Like

Though, in practice, kanji frequency isn’t linear. The more uncommon things are, the far less frequently they appear. You’re not guaranteed to see something outside the 99th percentile of kanji frequency every time you look at 100 kanji in the wild.

Sure, if you read an entire newspaper, the rare ones will show up somewhere. But you could read a lot (of any given newspaper) and never encounter anything in that range.

4 Likes

I have heard that the average life-long “literate” Japanese (One who reads literature? As opposed to enjoying Lee Child?) has a recognition vocabulary of 50/60 thousand kanji. I can’t think of how this might be judged. Is there a Japanese writer invoked as a counterpart to William Buckley? Contextual guesses, knowledge of roots, variously informed guesses, will take you a long way in English. I have heard (I guess this counts as a finger-hold on knowing something) that anyone whose English has ranged wide of the conversational has a recognition vocabulary of 80 thousand or so. I infrequently look at Nelson and try to gauge if knowing radicals and components of a kanji in question has given me any feel for the given definition. Maybe a Japanese word-smith can speak to this. Maybe at 60 and steady on, one can be more hopeful.
"The more uncommon things are, the far less frequently they appear. Mr. Craburn is not only right, he is exactly right.

I feel like you might be conflating a few things here. Maybe that’s how many words some Japanese adults know, but it’s way more kanji than Japanese adults typically know, and it’s at about the maximum of all kanji that have existed in history, including obsolete and incredibly rare ones.

8 Likes

Yeah there arent even 60k kanji in the 大漢和辞典 iirc.

2 Likes

Craburn/Vanilla … I was not attesting to things “I have {only} heard.” That’s like having confidence in a cliff-edge grip. I try to remember corrections of this kind and will keep it in mind. Going a little further with it, it is routine to find several (2,3,4) renderings of a specifically referred to kanji. How this adds on I have no idea. Candidate- or kanji-alluded to by writers thinking of Chinese usage? How many more would be pulled in? This is not a point I am arguing. It just seems to me, (some kind of equivalent to “I have heard”) that putting the entire count at no more 60 or so could be shy. What I will attest to is that I chanced across an acquaintance,a Japanese woman in her 40’s, in a Kyoto Maruzen, whose English was on a par with some of the best speakers I am acquainted with. She was browsing through a text on fractals. Yes, her husband owned a bookstore. Yes, she was probably gifted in language. Yes, she was vastly read. I think it likely that the historical set of kanji that you appeal to, allowing for their combinations and kanji neologisms (I guess Japanese has these) would handle all this. If you can’t find me a source for the kanji count you refer to, this doesn’t by itself make it unlikely. I would just like to read the kind of article that would include this information. Vanilla’s jiten reference likely would be persuasive if I could see the rules for inclusion. Thank you.

Even for number of words that sounds high. Depending how you count words of course (presumably for verbs just the infinitive counts as one word rather than all its tense conjugations).

As an example, this article references some research that estimates native English speakers have a vocabulary of around 20,000-25,000 words:

1 Like

Then I suppose it depends a lot on the language. I’ve heard much higher numbers for Japanese.

2 Likes

This post on chiebukuro mentions 15k-30k vocab for an average Japanese speaker, and 30k-50k for an educated one. (Of course, it’s barely better than hearsay, since there’s no ref)

As for kanji, nah, I think the number of people who even reach 10k would be vanishingly small. I thus assume @runninginplace is talking about vocab rather than kanji.

4 Likes

He would have to be a special kind of inattentive to be doing so. After leebo already mentioned that point, he still went on to talk about kanji rather than words

Otherwise yeah, I would agree with you in assuming that.

EDIT: Well not only leebo, but the fact that I also provided a kanji dictionary.

6 Likes