Context sentence hiragana use should be consistent

I’ve started to read the context sentences for the first time, and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for the choice of writing out words in kanji or hiragana. I’ve understood that WK opted to replace kanji with hiragana because people were complaining about kanji above their level appearing, but the current system doesn’t serve the needs of either intermediate/advanced learners or beginners.

Hiragana and kanji are mixed in a way that you will never see in the wild
新幹線 is written as 新かん線 or 秘密基 as ひみつき地

Mixing hiragana and kanji in compound words doesn’t make it easier for beginners who don’t know the meaning, but makes it harder for advanced learners
To use ひみつき地 as an example, a beginner won’t understand the meaning, and will have to look it up in a dictionary anyway. The way the compound words are currently written, they will not get results in jisho, and a beginner can’t tell where one word ends and another one begins, or even that the preceding kana are nouns. For more advanced learners, the mixed hiragana and kanji just makes the text much more obscure to read.

Hiragana is not used consistently
The level 8 example sentence that replaces the level 14 kanji 基 with き is followed by another example sentence that uses the level 41 kanji 凄い, despite the fact that it’s more often written in kana. Examples of this in many groups of example sentences, a level 10 learner will see level 40+ kanji in one context sentence, but level 12 kanji will be written in hiragana in the next.

Suggested solution
Either all kanji that has not been introduced yet is written in hiragana, or kanji is used normally. The current hybrid system isn’t serving most learner’s needs.

EDIT: Was too categorical about not seeing the mixed hiragana-kanji forms out in the wild. As other users pointed out, this is common for Japanese children’s media. That said, WK using the format for non-Japanese speaking learners (which I’m assuming the majority of WK users are) isn’t helpful. Japanese children already understand Japanese, and the hiragana meaning is readily apparent to them. The hiragana reading of a new word will be just as illegible to a Japanese learner as the kanji however, and in some cases even more so; if a beginner saw 炎, 氷 or 森 for the first time at least they could make an educated guess on the meaning, and reason that it’s most likely not a conjunction either.

While I fully agree that mixed kanji usage is painful, I need to clarify some of the points you made :slight_smile:

Especially in children’s books, hiragana and kanji are mixed in the exact same way you are describing… I vividly remember かの女 and other obscurities in “The Girl who Leapt Through Time”.

I guess Jisho’s lookup features are much more robust than what you imagine: https://jisho.org/search/ひみつき地
(you can even look it up like this: https://jisho.org/search/himituki地 - I sometimes even use this feature)

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Yeah, this is a standard way to present words to children who can’t read the kanji in question. Especially at school in Japan. I teach at a school in Japan, so I am regularly exposed to writing that looks like this. That’s “the wild” for me. Obviously not everyone is in that situation.

I get that it’s a nitpick of your post, but this way of writing would not look strange to Japanese people.

Edit: oh and it’s worth mentioning that when children write things to me in Japanese, it looks like this. They just leave any kanji they don’t know as hiragana.

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Especially in children’s books, hiragana and kanji are mixed in the exact same way you are describing… I vividly remember かの女 and other obscurities in “The Girl who Leapt Through Time”.

You’re absolutely right on this regarding young children’s books, I was being too categorical. That said, many/most of the context sentences are not something you would find in a children’s book, so I don’t think the typical learner would be exposed to these kind of constructs in the wild.

I guess Jisho’s lookup features are much more robust than what you imagine: https://jisho.org/search/ひみつき地
(you can even look it up like this: https://jisho.org/search/himituki地 - I sometimes even use this feature)

I used a bad example then! Fact is that I wrote the feedback mainly out of frustration for constantly ending up in jisho dead-ends due to it not recognizing mixed hiragana-kanji compounds, I’ll update my post the next time I run into one in WK.

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Semi-related topic here:
And what do you guys thing about showing romaji transcription above example sentances? I would loveeee to have them shown as a blurry spoilers which you can unblur with a finger tap.
As for me, I am finishing level 3 so I am pretty much newbe here. Sometimes when I am reading the sentance I am not 100% sure if I am reading that properly. We all know that there are rules stating when you should use onyomi or kunyomi reading, but there are a lot of exceptions. Or you simply forget the reading

Full Kana, sure. Romaji no.

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There’s a userscript which you might find useful, Advanced Context Sentence, it lets you highlight kanji in the sentences and get the reading (in kana).

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The first of three sentences is usually simplified, but the other two are (or only the last one is) usually left in full kanji. This is to cater to both beginning learners, and more advanced learners. After level 20 there will generally only be one sentence per vocab item, usually not simplified. Hopefully this information can help dispell some of your frustrations with the context sentences!

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The first of three sentences is usually simplified, but the other two are (or only the last one is) usually left in full kanji. This is to cater to both beginning learners, and more advanced learners. After level 20 there will generally only be one sentence per vocab item, usually not simplified. Hopefully this information can help dispel some of your frustrations with the context sentences!

Thank you for explaining the logic, makes more sense now that I understand that the inconsistency is by design! That said, the original point stands, the limited usefulness of writing unknown vocabulary in hiragana is outweighed by the cost in legibility and dictionary-useability. It slows down reading, the pattern recognition skills I’ve acquired from reading Japanese sources in the wild come to a screeching halt whenever one of those hiragana-kanji mixes is thrown at me. You could argue that it helps solidify vocabulary, but WK is primarily to help learners read Japanese - the vast majority of learners will not be seeing forms like that anywhere outside of WK.

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Dang it, not sure if it will work on my usual learning setup. Usually I learn on Android phone. It would be nice to have such a official, fully-fledged function which could be toggled on and off in settings. Showing furigana in such situations would be so nice ^^

On PC I got chrome plugin Rikaikun, which is pretty neat

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