New in WaniKani, couple of question

Hi there,

I just start with WaniKani in order to learn more about kanjis, vocabulary and radicals. I’m currently with a lot of question that I need to clarify before star with this nice website.

  • The first question is about radicals, I alredy know them are a kind of block that compose almost each kanji but… Do I need to learn what each radicals mean and how write the mean in hiragana? and if the answer is yes, why wanikani say that the kanji for “one, ichi” is ground and when I did a review and write “one” said that I’m wrong?
  • The other question is also about kanjis and furigana. Maybe it can sound strange but how exactly kanjis work in a sentence? I know that human is a kanji and the kanji mean human or person. but what about this: 錬金術師 (ren-kin-ju-tsu) when in a sentence are 3 or more kanjis like renkinjutsu I must forget the mean of each kanji and read it until the end in order to understand what it is?

I’m sorry if I’m in the wrong place to ask this kind of question.

The radicals here are probably best thought of as “kanji parts.” They have English names that are used for mnemonics, to remember the kanji, but they don’t have “meanings” in the sense that most people usually expect. The 一 radical is called “ground” and not “one” because “ground” is more useful for mnemonics than “one” is. You can add “one” as a synonym if you want.

Firstly, your rendering of “ren-kin-ju-tsu” for 錬金術師 is not quite right.

It’s 錬 (ren) 金 (kin) 術 (jutsu) 師 (shi)

As for the rest of your question… it’s not quite clear to me exactly what you’re asking. 錬金術師 is a word, but it’s a fairly straightforward one, where each kanji’s meaning adds up to the overall meaning. There’s no idiomatic elements or exceptional readings.

I see, so radicals does not have a mean like a kanjis?

Oh, it just was a example. I know it’s a word but my question is for example maybe this kanji: 錬 has a mean, I don’t know which but let suppose the mean is gold. But I must to know also how read it “ren” in order to understand all, no only know what the kanji mean, also know how the pronunciation is.

Sometimes the name that the creators chose is the same as the meaning of the kanji. Sometimes it’s not. It’s just best to think of them as pieces you are just making mnemonics from, rather than having meanings themselves.

Once you learn more about kanji you might be interested in going back and learning more about some that do have important meanings.

For simplicity’s sake
The meaning of 錬 is “refine”
The meaning of 金 is “gold”
The meaning of 術 is “technique”

This makes a word 錬金術 (alchemy, the “technique” by which you “refine” “gold”)

師 means “expert”

So 錬金術師 is a expert of alchemy, i.e. an alchemist.

As I said, in this case, the meaning and pronunciation of these words is very straightforward.

On the other hand it’s possible to have words that seemingly make no sense at first glance, like 寿司 (sushi). The two kanji that make up sushi mean “lifespan” and “administrator”. They were chosen for their pronunciation and the meaning of the individual kanji have nothing to do with the meaning of the word they make when put together.

It depends on what word you’re looking at.

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Now I understand a little bit more how kanjis work, I was thinking each kanji has a mean and when you read a word with only kanjis need to have a relation with pronunciation and also with the mean of each kanji that create the word (like your sushi example, where each pronunciation is su and shi but the mean of each one has nothing to do with sushi or fish, rice, chef, etc.

Thank you for your time.

You should learn the words as a whole and not focus on the meaning of the kanji themselves (except for kanji that are vocab) when reading.

In English you have “-ist” in in alchemist for example, which refers to a person doing something. But you are probably not explicitly thinking about that when you read the word. The difference is that for kanji you can see more easily what the parts mean (師 here), which is very helpful to understand new words you haven’t seen before.

I see, I’m currently with radicals but a lot of question start to come up when see it, I would like to read in japanese and I know kanjis are a stronge point, but I don’t see kanjis like an obstacle just like something that need a lot of time.

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