If I know the meaning of a kanji from Chinese, is it worth it to still memorize the mnemonic for the meaning?

Similar question for pronunciation; if it’s something like 三 where the pronunciation for the recommended form (さん) is nearly identical to the Mandarin pronunciation (san), am I hurting myself long term by just remembering that that one happens to be the same?

For the record I’m not fluent in Chinese, I took Chinese school for a couple of years but the place I was at was mainly oriented towards people who were already fluent in speaking and just wanted to learn to read, so the pace was too much for me.

Well, yes and no in my opinion. I mean, the purpose of the mnemonic is to get you to remember the meaning. If you can already do that, then :man_shrugging:

I would read them and be familiar with them, though, because they tend to build on each other, have recurring characters, etc. and one day you’re going to run into a kanji you don’t know and the mnemonic will work better if you know the whole “story”, so to speak.


Mnemonic just means memory aid. Use it only when you need it.


To me. When i started wanikani. I had some kanji or vocabulary which i thought i know well because hearing it a lot. So i thought i would skip the mnemonics. Which for me resulted me forgetting the kanji/vocabulary in the long run.(of course not doubting your abilities). But i encourage if you try to stick with them if you can or just create your own…

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Slightly irrelevant side tangent: I learnt yesterday that in Chinese, 机 is the simplified version of 機, and so means “machine”…

The mnemonics are just training wheels; even if you decide to use them, they’ll “come off” eventually. I knew a few hundred kanji when I started WK and quickly decided that I didn’t really need them, so I stopped even reading them and was fine.


I’d say yes it’s still worth it, because the mnemonic for the reading is often tied directly to the meaning mnemonic. Also, if you only took a few years of Chinese, then you may not know all of the kanji. Some kanji have different meanings from the Chinese ones, and if you learned simplified Chinese, then the characters themselves may be slightly different anyway. The pronunciation is usually not the same as well, so I would definitely pay attention to the reading mnemonics. The mnemonics also build on each other as well.

Don’t worry about fully memorizing each of the mnemonics if it’s not necessary, though, since it’s just intended to be a memory aid. I just recommend still reading through them, especially with kanji you don’t know the meaning for. But for kanji like 三, I wouldn’t worry too much.


I think this might be a case of convergent evolution. If you look at the Wiktionary page for 几, you’ll find that it can be traced in a similar form all the way back to oracle bone script. However, it’s also listed as a simplified form of 幾,and a variant form of 人, plus some other stuff.

Kind of like the way the radical 厶 means “private; alone”, but is also graphically identical to the katakana ム or a simplification for like 54 billion different radicals that nobody has time to write anymore.

What Ayokana said: The mnemonics are often important for readings, which are harder to memorize, and the reading mnemonics.
I just recommended learning the radicals to a chinese native speaker who estimated he can read about 80% of Kanji. I still think learning the radicals and mnemonics for Kanji you don’t know completely will mean less work and better retention in the long run.

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