Critical vs. Leech

What is the difference between Critical and Leech?

If I were to pick one of those to study extracurricularly, which should it be?


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You should take leech.

I often get criticals in the early apprentice stages. I fail them for a while but eventually I learn them and they get off critical by themselves.

Leeches means you still don’t master them at a later stage of learning. They require more attention because the regular learning process did not suffice.

Leeches can be criticals at the same time. There is a substantial overlap between the two categories. When they overlap treat them as leeches.

This is how I understand these notions. Posters with more experience than me feel free to chime in.


another question: what is the best way to find leeches on mobile?

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Scroll through your lessons and any items from more than 7-10 levels ago are probably leeches that should have been burned by now.

Did you mean ‘reviews’?

No, the levels and the lessons. You can see the ones that haven’t been burned.

As you can see, the toe radical is still here from 30 lessons ago because I keep thinking of it as stick. You should be able to see the same thing from the WK web interface on mobile.


Now I understand. The screenshot clarifies what you mean.


In common parlance lessons only refer to items that you have unlocked, but not learned yet, so still in your lesson pile.

Also, this trick only works if you have already started burning a level. So it won’t work at all within the first 6 months of learning, and then only for level 1 items.

But you can look on WK stats to see which items per level are still hanging around apprentice, or a lower srs level than the rest of the items from that level.

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Yeah I just noticed he was level 6. But honestly, I don’t think you can call something a leech until then anyway.

I think if you have Android devices, you can install userscripts using Tampermonkey or something similar. Not sure because I haven’t tried it yet. But if I remember correctly, iOS users are out of luck in this regard.

Out of curiosity, do you ever find that the radical names given by WK interfere with your learning later on? Like ‘poop’ for 幺, even though it’s actually meant to mean ‘a single thread’? Don’t mean to sabotage your reviews, but you know… you’re actually right. 卜 is a stick. It’s a divination stick, to be precise. That’s the original meaning of the character. Has this stuff given you any problems along the way?


For things that are actual radicals, I haven’t really had an issue. The stick one is probably a bad example because I don’t consider it a leach. I just need it to come around again for burn.

The ones that give me problems are the WK “radicals” that are actually Kanji. For example, 各 as a radical is “kiss” but as Kanji it’s “each”.


actually i found last night i can download Firefox for Android which supports extensions and therefore userscripts. Yay


I see. That makes sense.卜 is a valid character in Chinese, but I have no idea if it’s used in Japanese outside of katakana. But yeah, I guess it doesn’t really matter unless it’s a radical that always has a consistent, clear contribution to the meaning of a kanji that contains it.

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I agree. Although WK is a bit inconsistent in this regard.

The other thing it doesn’t teach is phonetic components, but it is something you pick up as you learn more Kanji. Like words containing 各 are usually pronounced かく or variations like きゃく.


True. Well done picking up on that. I initially didn’t think of using phonetic components because even though the same thing exists in Chinese, it’s often a lot less consistent. I was pleasantly surprised to see how often phonetic components help in Japanese. There are some kanji in Japanese that are pronounced the same in Japanese (e.g. 敵 and 適) which are completely different in Mandarin today (dí and shì).


why not use your own answer, since it’s just a radical lol. I’ll change wk radical names if i know it by another name (from learning chinese) or if i find that it looks more like another kind of shape.

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Mainly just an oversight in my part. I used to be pretty strict with radicals but my views have relaxed over the last year or so.

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