I forced an AI to read dozens of WaniKani mnemonics and then write its own. Here's what it came up with

This is great, though. If we get those 9 extra WaniKani levels as sage @plantron has foretold, you can generate mnemonics for the new kanji :smiley:

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Makes sense to me :+1:

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People seemed to enjoy these, so I decided to see if I could take it a bit further.

The examples in the OP were generated with “one-shot” (or “few-shot”) learning. In other words, I gave the AI a list of (as I said in the title) a dozen or so mnemonics (without any context, too) and basically asked it to write more in that style.

OpenAI also allows you to fine tune the model by providing it many examples ahead of time with prompts and expected results. This way, I can feed it the kanji, meaning, and radical names and ask the AI to come up with a mnemonic that fits for that prompt.

I used the WaniKani API to download the relevant data for all the kanji, then trained the GPT-3 “Curie” model on ~1,500 examples (leaving the ~500 leftover kanji as validation data). Unfortunately, the larger “DaVinci” model which I used originally isn’t generally available for fine tuning, but they claim the Curie model is still pretty good, especially once it’s been fine tuned.

With the model trained, we can now give it prompts from the validation dataset (which it didn’t see during training) and see if it’s able to put together meaningful mnemonics. As an example, a prompt might be:

中 is a kanji meaning “Middle”, “In”, “Inside”, or “Center”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “middle”.

For this prompt, the model’s output was:

The middle radical and the middle kanji are the same!

Know your radicals, yo!

Promising so far, for a simple example. It’s smart enough to realize that the kanji and radical share a meaning, and spits out the cookie-cutter mnemonic.

Let’s try something harder:

泳 is a kanji meaning “Swim”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “tsunami” and “eternity”.

A tsunami that goes on eternity will take you on a swim.

Imagine a tsunami so big it goes on forever. Then, imagine yourself getting swept up in that tsunami and being swept forever more.

Decent! It helps that there’s a pretty obvious mnemonic for these radicals and meaning.

Let’s try some more:

十 is a kanji meaning “Ten”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “cross”.

You have to put a cross on each of the ten fingers to remind you of your place. You are a ten year old, after all.

You’re young, but none of your age mates are counting. They’re just writing ten numbers on you. Why are they doing that?

才 is a kanji meaning “Genius”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “ground”, “barb”, and “slide”.

If you have a slide that goes into the ground you’re probably a barb of a genius. The rest of us would need stairs to get down there.

Imagine the genius who invented this slide. He is a genius in more ways than just sliding.

六 is a kanji meaning “Six”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “lid” and “fins”.

Take the lid off this tank of water and you’ll see fins sticking out at six intervals. That’s how often you have to put a new fin in this tank. Every six fins you take off the old ones and put on the new ones.

Imagine taking the lid off this tank to count the fins. You have to do this really slowly, because if you take the lid off too fast the fins will swim away and you won’t be able to put them back again.

And a bunch more:

A bunch more examples

内 is a kanji meaning “Inside” or “Within”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “head” and “person”.

A person’s head is within their body. Inside the body, you say? Okay, well, that’s what they say. The thing is, if you think about it, every person’s head is attached to their body, so it’s kinda obvious where their head is. It’s within.

Imagine someone’s head as the size of a ball. Now imagine that same person with their head inside their body, looking around. What does their head look like? Just imagine it, focus on the feeling of it being inside your body.

豪 is a kanji meaning “Luxurious”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “lid”, “mouth”, “forehead”, and “pig”.

A pig has a lid covering its mouth and its forehead because it is luxurious. Pigs are the most luxurious of animals, and that lid and forehead thing is what makes them luxurious.

Picture the pig, with the lid on its mouth and the pig forehead covering, luxuriating in a baby bathtub.

払 is a kanji meaning “Pay”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “fingers” and “private”.

If you let private fingers touch some kind of money, you have to pay them back. Private fingers shouldn’t touch money, but they did, so now you have to pay them back.

Imagine having private fingers that touched some money. You shouldn’t have, but you did, so you have to pay back. That means you have to find the money and pay it back in cash.

電 is a kanji meaning “Electricity”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “rain”, “rice-paddy”, and “umbrella”.

Rain falls onto a rice paddy and gets trapped under an umbrella. This creates electricity! The rain falls onto the rice paddy and gets absorbed into the ground. Then, when the rain hits the ground, it jumps up and becomes electricity.

Picture yourself standing under an umbrella on a rice paddy. You hold your hands up and watch the rain fall and create electricity asunder.

発 is a kanji meaning “Departure”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “tent” and “lantern”.

You have a lantern in a tent that you’re going to use for your departure. The tent is the right size, the lantern is prepared, and you’re all set to depart.

You don’t want to depart without your tent and lantern. They’re valuable, and you need them. You also like leaving things like this behind (it’s a departure thing).

軽 is a kanji meaning “Lightweight”, “Light”, or “Light Weight”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “car” and “tombstone”.

The car next to the tombstone is super lightweight. It’s the lightest car you’ve ever seen, and it’s parked right next to a lightweight tombstone.

You’re standing there, looking at this car and the tombstone, when a guy comes up from behind you and says “Wow, that lightweight car is really light.” You both look over and the guy is making fun of your tombstone, which is super lightweight too.

算 is a kanji meaning “Calculate” or “Calculation”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “bamboo”, “eye”, and “twenty”.

You look at bamboo with both your eyes and you can see twenty pieces in each stalk. You can calculate how many bamboo stalks there are in bamboo trees by looking at them with both eyes.

Imagine counting the bamboo stalks using just your eyes. You can do this calculation in your head too.

功 is a kanji meaning “Achievement” or “Accomplishment”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “construction” and “power”.

You construct an amazing power girdle, but you can’t wear it because it’s way too tight. So you take your accomplishment and your construction skills and create the world’s first Spanx, the achievement of your life.

Imagine taking your accomplishment and making it into a product. You’d be a successful entrepreneur, that’s for sure!

Well, TBH this is where it all kinda falls apart IMO. It captures the WaniKani “voice” exceptionally well, but the mnemonics themselves don’t have a great sense of logic to them. I mean, a lot of the real mnemonics don’t either, but these are a good deal worse. Makes me wonder if DaVinci would be appreciably better at coming up with logical mnemonics.

Anyway, since we have this model trained, we can try a few more things. For example, we can prompt it with just the kanji and the meaning, asking the AI to try and guess what the radicals would be (and come up with a mnemonic):

十 is a kanji meaning “Ten”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “fingers” and “leader”.

The fingers of the leader are ten each. That makes sense, since the leader is very strong.

Imagine the leader’s fingers. They look like they could crush boulders with ease. But in fact, they’re only ten fingers each.

鋭 is a kanji meaning “Sharp”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “knife” and “knife-like”.

A knife is a knife-like object. It’s not a straight knife, it’s more of a knife-shaped knife. It’s also very sharp.

You have to be especially careful when using a knife-like object, because they’re really, really sharp.

As expected, the radicals it came up with are pretty much nonsense. GPT-3 has no real way of knowing what the kanji actually look like, after all. All its knowledge about the world comes from public data on the internet, and WaniKani radicals are, for the most part, made up. So, it just spouts nonsense.

That being said, the model should have some idea of what kanji mean. That’s information that’s publicly available online, after all. So, let’s try prompting it with just the kanji, and see what it comes up with:

十 is a kanji meaning “Tens”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “ones” and “drop”.

There are ones drops of water in this kanji. It’s a pretty big kanji too, so you know that means there are a lot of ones in it too.

Imagine taking a big sip out of this kanji, one drop at a time. I guess it’s time to learn your radicals again…

内 is a kanji meaning “Within”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “mouth”, “foot”, and “tree”.

Your mouth Extension to the foot tree is within the main trunk. It’s still a tree, but it’s within the mouth of a bigger tree.

Imagine a foot tree that’s big enough that your mouth can Extension to it. Now imagine yourself going inside that tree and exploring.

臓 is a kanji meaning “Lungs”, “Flanks”, or “Abdomen”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “mouth”, “ground”, and “flowers”.

You have a mouth on the ground near some flowers. Your mouth is full of flowers, and it’s full of wind too, because you’re trying to breathe them in. But your mouth and your lungs aren’t working right, so you keep trying to breathe in flowers. What a weirdo.

Picture yourself trying to breathe in flowers. It doesn’t work, and you end up with a mouthful of flowers. It’s a weird sight.

Not bad. Of course, like before the radicals and resulting mnemonics are complete nonsense, but it is at least able to guess at what certain kanji mean. We can also try prompting it with more obscure kanji that aren’t on WaniKani

is a kanji meaning “Boil”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “salt”, “mouth”, and “heart”.

If you put a salt in your mouth and add a heart to it, it will start to boil. The heart increases the amount of heat being generated, and the salt in your mouth helps to boil the water.

Boiling water in your mouth is a strange but fun experience. Try it out and feel the water boiling as you add the heart to the mix.

is a kanji meaning “Lamp”, “Flame”, or “Fire”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “flame”.

The flame radical and flame are the same in looks as well as in meaning.

Just remember that the radical is made up of a lot of smaller radicals, so there may be a few more steps in learning the meaning of this kanji than some of the others.

is a kanji meaning “Alarm”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “mouth” and “tree”.

You put your mouth on this tree in order to set the alarm for your house. You’re a tree-mouthed person, just like Shrek, so this is no big deal for you.

The tree is really, really mouth-watering. You can’t stop yourself from licking and sucking on it. At the same time, you set off the alarm, which will hopefully get some people’s attention.

is a kanji meaning “Pile Up”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “tree” and “boil”.

Under a tree, a boil is pile up. All of the boils under the tree pile up and create one big boil.

Picture all of the boils under the tree. They pile up and create a huge boil.

It struggles quite a bit more with these more obscure characters.

Lastly, for fun we can try prompting it with characters that aren’t kanji at all. These will of course be total nonsense, but it could be fun:

:poop: is a kanji meaning “Shit”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “measurement” and “lack”.

Lack of measurement makes it seem like you have a lot of shit in your life.

You have a lot of things in your life that you’re lacking in measurement. You have a lot of things in your life that are lacking in the amount that you need them. This is one of them. You have a lot of shit in your life.

:eggplant: is a kanji meaning “Apples”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “tree” and “flowers”.

A tree that has flowers on it is probably going to have some apples on it too. Trees don’t just happen to have apples on them, they have to have apples on purpose. Someone had to go out in the woods and pick them.

Imagine yourself going out into the woods and picking a basket full of delicious apples. Feel the sun on your back as you walk through the woods, listening to the birds and the wind in the trees.

か is a kanji meaning “Go!” or “Yes!” It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “Go!” and “yes!”

The radical Go and the kanji Go are the same!

Make sure you know those radicals!

ポ is a kanji meaning “Wave”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “tsunami”, “the”, “world”, and “moon”.

A tsunami hits the world moon and creates a huge wave. The tsunami wave hits the moon and then reflects back toward the earth, creating another tsunami wave.

Picture this tsunami wave reflecting off of the world moon and then crashing back toward the earth.

햇 is a kanji meaning “Peace”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “tsunami” and “dawn”.

A tsunami at dawn is the most peaceful time of day. Not even the sun is up yet, so the water isn’t choppy or rough. It’s just perfect for taking a nap, or meditating, or saying your goodbyes. It’s the most peaceful time of day.

Imagine the most peaceful moment of your life so far. Now imagine the most peaceful moment of the next most peaceful moment of your life. Keep going, keep going. You’ll never top that dawn tsunami.

Æ is a kanji meaning “Pig” or “Pig-Like”. It’s composed of radical(s) meaning “pig”.

The pig radical and the pig kanji are the same!

Know your radicals, yo!

🀀 is a kanji meaning "

The kanji kanji for mouth is kanji kanji kanji kanji kanji kanji.

Know your mouth kanji, yo!

I kinda thought it would have a chance with the 東 mahjong tile character, but instead that one just confused it the most.

If anyone has other ideas for prompts, feel free to suggest.

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I swear I must’ve read this in one of the lessons before

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Beautiful. More emoji kanji please.

:tiger2: :thinking: :dragon:

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to the tune of the Badger song
Kanji kanji kanji kanji kanji kanji kanji kanji
Know your Kanji!

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Where is this “legacy content spreadsheet”?? I would love to see some of the old mnemonics.

This is amazing!! I love this

One of the greatest stories of love and loss of our generation

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