Mnemonics? I'm offended!

Hi all, I just thought I would share this story with you.

When I was in my final year of university I had a part-time job teaching kanji to the first years (this was back in my level 54 days, before I reset my account. I was qualified for the job! Honestly!) and I often used mnemonics to help the students remember the kanji.

Aside from the millennials who just couldn’t be bothered and thought that just being in Japan would magically make them fluent in Japanese, there was one girl who actually got pretty offended and angry at a mnemonic. The kanji was 好, and as a beginner, this girl was having some difficulty memorising it, so of course I said that women (女)like (好) children (子)and that would be a good way to remember it. Her face instantly changed and she looked at me with an angry kind of SJW hatred. “NOT WOMEN! PARENTS!” she seethed.

I wasn’t sure whether or not she was joking at first, so I gave a slight smile before realising she was deadly serious. Someone actually got offended by a mnemonic, which in my eyes is even worse than getting offended by a fictional story since a mnemonic is simply a memory aid and nothing else.

She didn’t speak to me for the rest of the class and never came to one of my classes again.

So that’s my funny little story. Does anyone out there have any similar ones to tell?

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I bet she remembered the kanji though

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Maybe, but I just pray she never goes on WaniKani. She’ll have a heart attack when she sees some of Koichi’s KKK mnemonics…

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I identify with her statement but not with it getting in the way of a convenient and effective mnemonic.

You could always substitute in “the mother (this woman) likes her child,” though.

If only. Can’t wait for them to get into the country and find it it still takes hours of active study every day to make real progress.

I know what you mean but I’m not prepared to change things like mnemonics just in case people get offended. She knew what I meant and she knew I wasn’t being nasty, but still chose to be offended. If it was any other situation, for example something political, I would agree that everyone should watch their language.

Haha yeah the number of people who I met who expected that was incredible. So many people dropped out when they realised it wasn’t a magical process…

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I’m a millennial who has been studying Japanese since 2011 and I still have a long way to go. How can I activate my ability to learn by magic? :laughing:

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That idea that you will magically learn Japanese by living in the country is shared by so many people. Same with Japanese students going to study English in an English speaking country. It doesn’t work at all if you only surround yourself with people who speak your language.

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I’ve been studying since 2014, I live in Japan and I still get frustrated every single day when I can’t get a sentence right or communicate with someone properly. My listening skills are horrible! Still studying though! I think perseverance is key but they don’t know that!

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Not necessarily even surrounding yourself by the people. I know a Mexican guy who lived in a house with 3 other Mexicans and hung out with Spanish girls for the rest of the time. He failed…

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When the languages are as dissimilar as Japanese and English, it’s not going to work period unless you put in some dedicated learning time outside of daily life, no matter who you’re spending time with.

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That’s true. You can survive in Japan without being fluent in Japanese; especially if you are in a bigger city.

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Too many people speak English in Tokyo! I would have preferred to have been forced to use Japanese more during my vacation there. I can only think of two times where my Japanese was really useful, and even then I only had to say the simplest things, like 「いくらですか」 to the taxi driver. Most of my practice ended up being from reading things like billboards, street signs, menus, and plaques in parks. Still, it was a great vacation!

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She’s not offended, she just went to visit the legendary boob grave.

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This is why I’m never going to submit an official request to change the mneumonics even though I personally was offended by the first “sei” that came up and refused to ever read them again so you know ¯_(ツ)_/¯ just us SJWs I guess

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I guess she’d be unhappy to know I changed all い / “eagle” mnemonics to “Hitler”. It’s amazing how well it works in Wanikani, considering what the eagle usually does.

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I can see how Hard Gay could offend people, but in addition to that, he’s not really that well known and people don’t necessarily want to learn about him, so I think it’s likely that they’re working on changing those mnemonics.

I don’t know if you really identify as an SJW, but unfortunately so many unreasonable public personalities have aligned with that term that it no longer means what I assume it was meant to mean. You obviously didn’t rage-quit WaniKani after you got offended, so you’re different than that student. I also don’t think the original poster was trying to offend anyone.

I do agree that a thread about changing the offensive mnemonics would most likely get derailed into general unpleasantness and get closed :sweat_smile: You could always email the staff directly at hello@wanikani.com and ask them about it.

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The people a few thousand years ago were not very politically correct.

Fortunately the easily offended people are ignorant enough to not to try out what the kanji really depict.

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Okay, but like…

Can we acknowledge that there’s a difference between getting concerned over “women like children” (which is a stereotype and harmful cultural expectation a lot of people really do still casually hold and impress upon others) versus just the … I don’t know, like, idea of Hitler or the KKK existing? (Even WK’s KKK mnemonics always characterize the group as villains.)

I am generally in the camp of working through any shock if the mnemonic is simple and effective, but I’m not super on board with the idea of just assuming any old shock is going to “trigger the SJWs,” that it should be a competition to do so, or that it’s a great move to try to flatten out the areas that are still real concerns by conflating them with being offended by any silly old thing. Most people don’t get offended by things for fun, but because they’ve genuinely had those expectations used against them and think they’re worth correcting. It’s bad faith to assume otherwise.

In that way, having a teacher tell you, “because women like children,” without a hint of qualification, is way more fair a cause for concern–because many people really do hold that to be true–than just bringing up Hitler or the KKK in a mnemonic. It’s probably worth working through it in all cases, but those are not the same things and it’s, I think, also reasonable to be tactful about it. (I’m not assuming the OP wasn’t, but just as a note.) Even WK apologizes for its Jew mnemonic the first or second time it comes up. And hey–it’s an effective mnemonic, but I’m also glad they took time to clarify they don’t really feel that way.

EDIT – I’m also not assuming any bad faith on your part. There’s just been a trend of “Well, then they’re surely offended by everything!” in this thread–even in the OP a bit–and I wanted to address that. That’s not really the place statements like that come from. I wouldn’t think.

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That getting offended by the idea that women, generally speaking, like children isn’t a “silly old thing” is a very debatable opinion too, you know.
If there wasn’t some truth in that humanity would have long gone been extinct, maternal instinct is found in almost every single species and this no doubt was the OP had in mind when he made up the mnemo.
Just because Handmaid’s Tale is hot right now, and today postmodernist’s culture tends to value individualism over family life (which, by the way, is as much of a cultural expectation than the opposite) doesn’t mean it’s suddenly a crime or an affront to use a generally accepted bit of old common sense. Yeah, I’d argue that getting offended either by the mnemo or the zeitgeist of associating women with children IS a silly thing, and being offended isn’t virtuous by default.

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