General Questions (radicals, kanji, words)

Only level two right now, but kind of curious about a few things.

Why don’t radicals match their kanji?

  • One example would be 文. (here you are having me remember ‘doll’, but then when it switches over to kanji or vocab it transforms into ‘writing’. This just adds an extra step of confusion when trying to recall items.
  • Another example is 十. (here i’m having to memorize ‘cross’ and it’s actually ‘ten’ when used for anything else.)

Another question concerns kanji pronunciation vs vocab pronunciation.
One example is 口. (Here the kanji is ‘ku’, but then you switch to vocab and it’s ‘kuchi’). I asked my co-workers about this and they have never used ‘ku’ to describe mouth. Wouldn’t you want the kanji to be the exact same as the vocab if there is a match? That would be logical. If it changes pronunciation in a sentence somewhere else, then change it and learn there. Don’t cause confusion right from the get go. I keep running into these instances where kanji is one pronunciation and then BAM the actual word that is the exact same symbol is something else.

Pronunciation Guide for 出 (kanji).
To me it more sense that someone is “shooing” you away than being “shot”. Like someone shooing you towards the exit.

One last concern is the kanji 才(さい)。When telling me it’s made up of just the cross and slide radicals, that isn’t right. At least how I see it. A cross is even and straight. This symbol looks more like barb + ground + slide radicals, than cross + slide.

The radicals on WK are meant to be the building blocks to help you remember kanji. So, sometimes their names are chosen to be more convenient for mnemonic purposes or are chosen to better represent how the radical looks. It’s not totally necessary to know exactly what they are (they are neither kanji, nor are they even “official” radicals), so I usually add a synonym if it gets frustrating. Just be warned that learning that synonym instead of the original name may confuse later mnemonics, so use with caution.

Kanji often have multiple readings. “On” readings are typically used in words that have two or more kanji, while “kun” readings will be used with one kanji by itself. “Ku” is one of the “on” readings for 口, and would be used in words like 口調. But “kuchi” is a “kun” reading and is used for 口 by itself. WK tries to teach the most common reading of a kanji when you first learn, then teaches you other common readings with the vocab.

Just remember that those are just mnemonics for the pronunciation. If a different mnemonic makes more sense to you, just add it in the notes!

For 才, keep in mind that these aren’t “official” radicals being used - they’re just acting as memory aids. So, sometimes they’ll look a bit different in the kanji. Also, even “official” radicals change shape depending on their placement in a kanji. The idea is just to help break down the kanji into bite-sized pieces so that you’re not learning each kanji stroke-by-stroke. Again, if a mnemonic confuses you, add a new one to the notes to help you out!

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The く reading is just one accepted reading. It sounds strange to tell people “this kanji is く on WK”.

The logic is that the radical is named by what it looks like, while the kanji is named by what it actually means in Japanese. I get where the makers of wanikani are coming from in trying to name the radicals based off of appearance – it does make the radical easier to remember. But, I completely disagree with its use in practice because though it does help people remember the radical itself, it completely confuses them when the radical and the kanji differ, which undoes any benefit gained from the system and arguably makes it worse. Personally, they should just name them after the associated kanji and leave it at that. Luckily, you can undo their mistake by adding your own user synonyms to the radicals.

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The Kanji pronunciation of 口 is こう, く or くち, not just one of them. くち is already taught to you in the vocab section, and WK wants you to know at least one of こう or く. WK is only asking you to know 2 out of 3. The reason for that is compound words. A word you’ll learn soon is 人口 which is read as じんこう, not じんくち or じんぐち. If you only learned the くち reading, you’d struggle with 人口.

口 isn’t a very good example though because it’s a body part and those like to use their kun’yomi reading (くち here) for some reason. 14 of the 16 vocab words with 口 on WK use くち (You can see this on WK’s 口 Kanji page). But for something like 同, as a vocab it’s the おな in おなじ (written 同じ), but in a compound AFAIK it’s always どう, never おな.

True. I kinda feel like I’ve seen the こう reading more, and that one is the main one taught anyway.

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