Help with mnemonic for 多分

I need help. The mnemonic for 多分 just does not work for me. It goes like this:
“You have many parts. Look at them all. You have to choose one of the parts. You can’t decide which one you want. This one? Maybe. How about this one? Hmm, maybe that one too.”

Every goddamn time 多分 pops up in my reviews I think like crazy for about ten minutes before settling on “different” or something like that, knowing that it is wrong.

This is the first vocabulary where the mnemonic just doesn’t work and I seem unable to come up with one myself. Can you help me, please?

EDIT: Hm. I guess I wasn’t clear enough. I need help with a mnemonic for the meaning, not the reading :slight_smile: How do I get “many” and “part” to “maybe”?

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If you watch anime or dorama in Japanese, this word たぶん is so often said that you will learn it in no time at all.


At the picnic table sits what may be a baboon. Could it be, the elusive picnic table baboon, the tabun? Maybe.


A: Do you need help remembering the meaning of 多分?
B: 多分。


The meaning. That たぶん means maybe or perhaps.

Maybe, Probably Many Parts (多分)

feat. the Tabun Baboon

The Tabun Baboon doing its reviews
Oh no! It looks like something’s askew

All these kanji and vocab challenging its smarts
Items it was sure it knew being sent back to the start
This will probably affect his progress chart
But he’s trying not to take it too much to heart :sob:

And now we can see as he starts falling apart
That we maybe, probably share with him… many parts




I thought the meaning of 多分 was more along the lines of ‘probably’


Visualize being really, really indecisive. Someone keeps offering you many parts, and you can’t decide which one. “Maybe?” you keep saying to every one. “Maybe this one… maybe that last one? Maybe… maybe show me another?”

Maybe is all you can say. You just can’t choose.

(Mnemonics are all about how vividly you build up the scene in your head, so whatever you visualize, go wild with "maybe"s.)

This is one of those words where the meaning can’t directly be derived from its component kanji. However, as I said, if you watch Japanese media, you’ll remember both the meaning and the reading in no time, just because it’s very often used.

Another word that’s strange: 沢山 (たくさん), which means “many, a lot”, but the kanji means “swamp” and “mountain”.


That was the joke. XD

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It’s “many” and “part” right? So think of think of part like percent. Many percents.

“Will this help you remember?”
“There are many percents that it will… so maybe. probably.”

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That’s how I always look at it, and how I personally suspect it came about.

If the whole is having 100% certainty, then having many parts is having it be “probably” the case. Having many parts of a 100% chance is like a 75% chance. That’s “probably”.

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Yeah, my gut reaction is also something along the lines of many percent / a lot of the times…

But I also think you’re rather unlikely to get to even an intermediate level without internalizing this just through exposure, so I wouldn’t really sweat it at this point :slight_smile:

Agreed. But I also tend to look at it as “perhaps”. :man_shrugging:


If you look at the righthand side of 多分, you see that it sort of looks like seaweed, which sort of sounds like “Schopenhauer”, and the lefthand side also looks a bit like seaweed, which also sounds a bit like “Let it Bleed”, a classic rock album by the British band the Rolling Stones. As you may well know, Schopenhauer developed an atheistic metaphysical and ethical system that has been described as an exemplary manifestation of philosophical pessimism, primarily by Kathryn Madden and Stanton Marlan in their influential Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion, Volume 2.

Few would guess, with names like Kathryn Madden and Stanton Marlan, that these two students of post-Kantian philosophy were a married couple, being that Kathryn decided to keep her maiden name as is so common these days. But married they were, and they raised two children named Greta and Chucil.

Now, back to the Rolling Stones. The album Let it Bleed was their tenth, at least it was the tenth album release in the United States, although that minor detail may be irrelevant to this mnemonic. What I really need you to focus on is the nature of the recording. It was described by one critic as “completely capturing the sense of palpable dread that hung over its era”. Another stated that the album’s first two tracks “both reach for reality and end up confronting it, almost mastering what’s real, or what reality will feel like as the years fade in”.

Now would such a sound have appealed to Chucil Marlon growing up in the household where he was raised in such turbulent and troubled times? Perhaps the music would have resonated with the post-Schopenhauerian philosophy in which he was steeped. However, one could argue that a young Chucil may have taken Schopenhauer’s philosophy to heart and rebelled in earnest against the underpinnings of the very philosophical tradition within which he was raised! He may have despised the Rolling Stones and everything they stood for. One could probably argue either position with equal rigor and precision. With this in mind, I think the best answer to our hypothetical would have to be a resounding “maybe!”.


I use this all the time. It’s probably one of the first words you learn from casual conversation. Are you into games? Joining a mixed Japanese/English server in a game like Final Fantasy XIV and making some Japanese friends could prove beneficial. I learned a lot of words (and slang) just chatting over the years.

Carly Rae Jepsen singing “Call me, maybe?”
Turns out Carly is actually a hermaphrodite…many parts


I remember some that just won’t stick with a stock phrase that clues me in.

“many parts may be the answer” (many parts: maybe = the answer). Repeat to yourself a few times and it might stick.

I also tend to sing the answers to myself in my head, so I have a “many parts may be the answer” song, too. It’s never gonna make the hottest 100 charts, but it works.

Worst case scenario, I tell someone that I am having trouble finding a mnemonic, and I talk to them about what each of the parts means, and they come up with stuff that is so ridiculous I would never remember it and somehow that cements the correct answer.


Thanks for all the help!

I actually found a solution to it now. Every time it appears, I think “Hm. That was the one I asked about in the forums. I just remember it being “maybe” now since I thought about so much. No mnemonic needed.”

I guess I could make a mnemonic of out that. “Maybe this was the one I asked about in the forums? I got many parts to the solution (many answers).”


It means “probably” more so than “maybe,” so I’d just go ahead and add that as an alternative answer, if it isn’t one already. (I can’t remember if WK includes it.)

Then the mnemonic becomes easy. There are a lot of parts, so it’s probably one of them. Alternately, a hypothesis that has a lot of parts (percentage) of being right is probably right.

I don’t know why “maybe” keeps getting passed off as the/a primary definition for this one. Yes, there are times when it could be delivered with more contextual uncertainty, but the same is true of “probably” in English. (I.e., “Do the test scores this year seem like they’re going to be okay?” “Yes … Probably.”) “Maybe” isn’t necessarily an irresponsible translation, in context, but I don’t feel like there’s a strong case for it being the primary definition of the word. That sets the learner up so badly.