Kanji readings that use a component reading

Helo WaniKani staff (and community!).

I’m currently level 13 (and a new lifer! with the once-in-a-年 sale) and have recently noticed that in several cases, Kanji readings (specifically on’yomi) tend to have the same reading as one of the Kanji’s components: for example
and just now 正=整=せい
I find it very hard to believe that this is a coincidence, and I think the reading mnemonic section of the kanji reading section of each of these Kanjis (the second or more of each such occurrence) should make note of this. Something like “note that this is the same reading as _, which is the bottom/right/left/middle component”

I think this would be very helpful to WaniKani learners.



I think this is called phonetic components, and you can use this script to show which kanji contain the same phonetic component [Userscript] Keisei 形声 Semantic-Phonetic Composition

Glad you realized this sooner because this is really helpful, especially to guess what the onyomi is when you encounter new kanji that has the same component with kanji that you already know, which happen to me multiple times :grin:


Scripts are nice and I may look into this, but they’re not very mobile friendly. any reason why this should not be a formal WK feature?

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Hi there, to make sure you get an answer from the WK team itself, I suggest you include @Mods somewhere in your question. This way they’re really aware of your query and can act accordingly. Simply addressing them might not work :slight_smile:

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I don’t know why but I agree they should add this to the lesson page by default. You could try to email them though.


I was under the impression this is a forum for general feedback read by the staff, thanks for adding that I need to actually @ them. done :slight_smile:

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You’re right in principle, of course, but sometimes a thread may get away from them and then reading through a ton of postings a couple or so days later must be a pain and things can be overlooked easily. This way, a single message appears on their radar and the gist of your query is immediately made clear. You may start your thread out as a question to the community and a few postings in realize that you’d appreciate an official answer as well. Or, as I do it, email them directly, as my queries might not interest others so I will spare the community unnecessary textwalls . :slight_smile:

It should be a part of WK proper. In general, WK is often too concerned with not wanting to overwhelm the learner with too much information. However, they can build this feature and disable it by default. Then, people who want to learn with using phono-semantic compounds can enable it. However, I’m a realistic person and I don’t think WK will ever do this. Maybe in 10 or 20 years.


You’re correct, actually on level 14, you will learn the kanji for “Atmosphere”, (雰) The reading is ふん. The card says:

“The reading for this kanji is actually the same as 分s. One trick about complicated kanji is they often take the reading of one of the pieces that they’re made from. In this case it’s 分, which is cool.”

It is noted, but to be noted on every kanji that does this, would be better, I agree.


It’s worth pointing out that this one technically isn’t like the others. The shared phonetic components in kanji only apply to the on’yomi reading, and なか is kun’yomi. (That said, they do share their on’yomi reading as well, which is ちゅう.)


Hi everyone! Just a quick note that we’re aware of the request and will be discussing it as a team.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a safe holiday and New Year :love_letter:


Well I don’t know the answer and can’t speak for the designers. But I think it’s possible that waiting for us to have that epiphany on our own is the more effective progressive teaching method. I mean, for one, you’re going to notice at some point, everyone does. (some earlier than others). That’s a nice encouraging sense of satisfaction. And as soon as you try to teach it as a rule, the there are a thousand qualifiers and exceptions to the rule and it gets all confusing to a newbie. It’s kind of better to organically acquire a sense for it being the case “a lot of times, but not always”.

They kind of do the same thing with rendaku but not as hands-off. They do point it out a lot of times, but they don’t try to tell you when it’s going to happen. Only that it did, and you have to get your own feel for guessing that.

Or, the simpler explanation is they just didn’t tackle that challenge; wanikani already has so much you have to actually stop dreaming up features and start building the thing at some point. :smiley:

By level 13 I think you’ve seen over a dozen pairs like that, but it’s also a big rabbit hole to go down, because some kanji are considered related even when the pronunciation is not the exact same.

For example:
羊 (sheep) = 洋 (western style) = 養 (foster) All share the sheep radical and よう reading. That’s all very clear cut. However phonetic components include historical readings that may not apply to this kanji itself anymore, but still do to its radicals. Three other WK kanji use the しょう reading of the 羊 radical [詳 (detailed) , 翔 (fly) , 祥 (auspicious)]

Some are even more weakly related, as the phonetic semantic script will reveal.

So it comes down to how deeply do you want WK to point things out? If it’s just the superficial, then I would say it’s unneeded. If you can’t observe that 中=仲=なか or that 羊 = 洋 = 養 = よう, then I’m not sure WK pointing it out would very useful.

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