When talking about radicals, the same two themes keep on popping up:
a) WaniKani doesn’t use the standard radicals, as found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_kanji_radicals_by_stroke_count
b) Wanikani radicals are rubbish. (I don’t agree, I’m only making an observation.)
While going through my radical lessons at the start of each level, I have to marvel at the sheer amount of work that has gone into creating the matrix of information for this service. It’s so impressive to me how I can learn a new radical and think to myself, “How in the world are they ever going to weave this into some kind of story to help me learn kanji?” And yet, they do.
Still, there are some radicals that just won’t stick. During level 6, Fish Tail became my Achilles heel. Whenever this radical would come up, I would cringe. Even when I remembered what it was supposed to be, it managed to auto-trigger an eye roll from me. I just didn’t like it. The way I don’t like olives.
But then something amazing happened. Reading through an unrelated thread a few weeks ago, someone mentioned in passing that they liked to use the meaning “fire” instead of “fish tail” because it was more relevant to many of the meanings of kanji that use it, and, well, it looks like fire. See kanji: heat, violent, illuminate, char, boil. I know that the official radical is fire, but that wasn’t the intent here. The suggestion was made from a place of, “This alternative radical meaning helped me learn the related kanji.” Because somewhere out there, I have a friend who just… doesn’t like fish tail either.
So I added “fire” and “camp fire” as an alternative meaning, and added a note with a cute anecdote about it looking like a camp fire. And now, life is better. When I unlock kanji using this radical, I’ll see if I need to add a note editing the mnemonic, of which I use pretty consistently.
Now for my purpose here: I’m sure there are people out there like me who are just bothered by a radical or two. Likewise, I’m sure that there are people out there who have taken a look at a radical and the kanji that use it and thought, “This would serve me better if it were ___.” Regardless of where that fill in the blank came from, I’d love to hear it. Together, let’s destroy all of the fish tails of the world.