Kenichi or Kyoko?

hi! i’m not sure if this is the right board, but here goes anyway.

backstory: i recently achieved level 3 (i only started a while ago) and was messing around on the settings when i saw that there are two different dialects (?) and it gives you the option to choose one, the default being kyoko, as im sure you all know

which is the better / more useful / commonly spoken pronunciation? should i stick with kyoko, try kenichi out or choose kenichi altogether?

this isn’t a preference thing for me, it literally is in my only interest to be more beneficial for me for learning the language.

thank you!

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First of all: welcome to the WaniKani community! :slight_smile: I hope you’ll like it here. Looking forward to hearing from you more on this forum ^^

But back to the question: It might come as a bit of a shocker, but not all people in Japan speak the exact same way a news reporter might speak! So just use both, since you would encounter different ways people might speak anyway. Since you’re quite new, you probably haven’t really used any userscripts yet, but there’s one I could recommend for that purpose which randomly plays either Kenichi or Kyoko during reviews (meaning you don’t have to set one default voice): Wanikani: Random voice actor.

Userscripts can basically change some features of the website and enhance the WaniKani experience compared to the official version. Once you have set up your first userscript, it’s really easy to add other userscripts! So don’t be discouraged because it might sound like something too technical for you to understand. You can find a lot of userscripts by searching the forum and here’s a guide on how to get started:

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I don’t think it really matters much for listening to individual vocabulary words.

At the risk of being politically incorrect, Japanese tends not to be a gender neutral language, though. Men and women speak differently, with different word and grammar choices (even if the individual words are mostly pronounced the same).

I’ve known several men that grew up learning Japanese from their mother abroad before moving to Japan. Due to unconscious imitation, they now speak with a decidedly feminine accent of sorts. Despite absolute fluency, it’s immediately noticeable to natives. (I’m sure there have been situations with the genders reversed as well.)

Again, though, this is more about how you would go about saying something and less about pronouncing individual words. Both genders tend to pronounce individual words the same way.

As you progress in your studies beyond kanji and Wanikani, I do think it’s important to expose yourself to spoken Japanese from different genders as well as different ages. The whole speaking-up vs. speaking-down thing is much, much more pronounced in Japanese compared to western languages.

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I agree that it would probably be best to listen to both recordings to get the most exposure, but I keep my autoplay set to Kenichi since the recordings sound much higher quality than the other’s. Kyoko’s recordings often end abruptly or sound scratchy to my ear, so I’ll want to hear Kenichi’s recording anyway.

I hope they consider rerecording Kyoko’s lines since the spoken pronunciations are super helpful to me when learning new words.

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hi, thank you so much!!

that’s actually incredibly helpful, like you said, haven’t checked out userscripts yet. i know when i started creating flash cards that alot of people were using scripts on wk, or anki or quizlet and had no idea what they were talking about lmao

i cannot thank you enough for the link tho, thought i was beyond help as i was on ipad (using safari) and it would only work on windows (idk, pc’s or whatever lmao)

update: it doesnt work on ipad T_T. am adamant to find a way however, now that ik about userscripts lol

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i see, would you say in a way that it has more just to do with preference and your grammar choice?

i do want to learn grammar so i can, like you say, start exposing myself to spoken japanese but i feel like i do need to progress in kanji and vocab first, right?

i have the exact same issue with the kyoko being cut off often or the audio messing with my earphones sometimes, i can’t listen to it after; just have to reload the entire page or exit smh

but yeah, i thought it would might be a good idea to just listen to both to hear it all ig lol

thank you!

If you’re using your iPad, then I can recommend checking out the Tsurukame app instead of doing your reviews in Safari: [iOS] Tsurukame - native app with offline lessons and reviews
Safari in iPad OS supports addons since last year’s iOS / iPad OS update, so you might even be able to install scripts in safari, I’m not sure. But by installing the Tsurukame app, you can do your lessons and reviews in an own app instead of using the website. This app includes some of the functionality for which you would need userscripts on the website, so that’s quite handy. I think the app uses a random voice actor per default

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There are also different particle choices at times, and monolingual dictionaries literally note which words tend to be used more by women and children (or men, depending on the case). 女性語 (feminine language) and 男性語 (masculine language) are also actual terms you can find in the dictionary. I’d say that general trends tend to involve men’s choosing more assertive words and expressions, and women’s choosing expressions that are less assertive and seek consensus. (As an example, it might just be an anime thing, but from what I’ve seen and heard so far, I have the impression that women use ね a lot more than men do, and that’s a particle that expresses or seeks agreement.)

I’ve seen some fairly recent analysis saying that there’s a bit more of a trend towards men and women speaking the same way now, but I’m not sure to what extent beyond the fact that some linguistic stereotypes used in literature, dramas and anime to distinguish between men and women aren’t really used by real people very much anymore (e.g. women ending their sentences with the feminine わ – I’m being specific because there’s also a unisex わ common in the Kansai region). The one thing that is true is that polite speech is usually more gender-neutral.

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oh, wow, that’s even better, thank you!!!

opened the thread for it, and i have to say, it looks impressive

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I think it’s a huge advantage to get a fair number of Wanikani vocabulary items under your belt at the very beginning of your Japanese studies. I did it the other way around (attempting to learn vocabulary and grammar for many years without learning how to read). Trust me, that way is FAR less efficient.

Re: your question: Yes, gender differences are mostly a matter of word choice and sentence structure. It’s actually changed quite a bit recently, but many words tended to be almost exclusively masculine. You’ll hear men use おれ to refer to themselves in casual conversation far more often than women, for example.

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Try Tsurukame. I’m not sure if the layout is optimized for iPad but it was indispensable for me doing reviews on the go on my phone.

It has an option to play audio automatically as well as download the audio so you can listen offline. It will randomly play either voice.

Plus it has a lot of other features that the scripts provide.

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i think what @Jonapedia said as well, makes sense for the gender differences. exposure i think, is going to be the most helpful method at the end to be fair.

for what you said about learning a good chunk of vocab…what sort of level number do you think is appropriate or sensible to start learning grammar at? it’s just that i looked at some much higher levels and they have everyday stuff within as well, so not too sure when i’ll know what a safe number is.

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I love it whenever Kenichi and Kyoko pronounce a word in completely different ways. It leaves me always searching for which way a certain word will be pronounced. Occasionally, I just wonder if Kenichi messed up like on 資本. My resources tell me the word is “heiban”, but Kenichi obviously has different resources. Is there any chance the recording got mixed up with 四本?

Anywho, I’m a guy, and I want to sound like a male, so I try to imitate Kenichi’s pronunciation, but usually listen to Kyoko for additional input.
Also, Kyoko’s audio cuts through a little better, so when I’m doing reviews with very low volume I tend to prefer Kyoko.

I doubt there’s one answer for everyone. I’m probably not the best to ask since I had a reasonably large vocabulary before starting (I just didn’t know how to read or write those words!).

It’s a large undertaking to learn to read. Much depends on your available time and energy. I know in my case I felt I was beginning to be able to read simple things with far fewer dictionary lookups around the mid-twenties in terms of WK levels.

But it’s never too early to start. I’d highly recommend at least watching some YouTube videos and the like to learn basic grammar. The Cure Dolly series is excellent if you can get past the creepy uncanny valley thing with the talking head. (Her proper elderly lady accent reminds me of my instructor from many years ago, for what it’s worth).

Sorry? Are you sure?

Kenichi and Kyoko have slightly different pitch accents on the Wanikani Vocabulary page for 資本(しほん), but both are pronouncing it しほん which I believe is the only correct pronunciation in Japanese at least.


And thus Rex displays his ignorance of pitch accent. 平板(へいばん) (flat board) is apparently a pitch accent term. I thought you were saying 資本(しほん) was said to be pronounced へいばん by some resources.

That is a particularly good example of how the same word can be pronounced differently by different people, though I’m unsure if it is purely a gender thing.

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ahh i see. i might just see where it takes me, start learning grammar as i go along down the line or at least grasp the idea of it; on that YT series, i know one of her videos i just skimmed through just goes through the idea of it all, so thank you for that! but, i’ve got to say, the uncanny valley talking head, is in fact terrifying, and the voice does not help at all, but the channel actually seems like one of those underrated little pieces of treasure that explain everything so nicely in a 10 minute video…such a shame the comment section has made it clear that she’s apparently passed away, bless.

guess i wont be expecting any new videos

this sounds quite interesting, is there any examples you can think of that have been drastically different?

Hi! Based on what I’ve encountered so far, the 大声 (loud voice) pronunciations feel quite different to my ear, with Kyoko being closer to oo-goh-e and Kenichi’s version to oo-moe.

Don’t know if you want to worry about it yet or not, but the word I mentioned 資本 has a fairly different pronunciation between two voices. The difference is in pitch accent, something that’s important to Japanese, but if you’re early on in your Japanese learning it may be overwhelming to add on to everything else you’re learning. People tend to disagree about how early you should learn pitch accent/if you should learn it at all. I tend to be on the “you should learn it when you can” side.

Japanese words accent by downshifting in pitch rather than by stressing a syllable (like in English), and sometimes the pitch pattern can change the meaning of a word; the classic example being あめ with a “dropping pitch pattern” called “atamadaka” means “rain,” but if you raise the pitch and keep it relatively flat after あめ means “candy”.

A personal example, I was giving a big public speech thing, in which I described a hero who sacrificed his life for his people. One of my sentences included the phrase ちをささげた, which I meant to be 血をささげた (i.e. he dedicated his blood), but because of the wrong pitch accent pattern 地をささげた was heard instead. Thankfully, I did a practice round before the real thing, and an elderly Japanese woman who was listening interrupted me to tell me how confused she was that the hero dedicated his “land” to the people. “Why” she asked. How was it relevant?
Even though the context made it incredibly clear that it should have been “blood” and not “land” the native listener couldn’t understand what I was saying because I used the wrong pitch accent. That’s why I say pitch is “relatively” important. Some words have a more consistent pitch pattern across Japan, and some words tend to vary more region by region. That said, 資本 (from my research) tends to be pronounced with a flat pitch pattern, but kenichi says it with an “atamadaka” pitch pattern.
I think I’ve digressed enough… sorry.

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