Newbie challenges

Hi all,
I am a newbie here and really enjoying this place as I begin my journey of learning. Please excuse me if this question has been asked elsewhere and/or this is not the right place to ask questions.
So my question/challenge - I am learning the literals, the mnemonics, the meanings; then i move onto to kanji - its mnemonics, its meaning; then the vocab - its mnemonics, it’s meaning…
I know it will probably become clear sometime but I am confused as to when I will need to use which meaning/mnemonic/literal. When does the literals meaning take precedence Vs kanji meaning Vs vocab etc.
Hope my question makes sense as I am still grappling with it.
any help would be much appreciated

By “literals” you mean “radicals”?

The radicals are only for making mnemonics. Sometime they coincidentally match the kanji meaning, but WK picked them for their use in mnemonics first.


Cheers Leebo and yep my bad, I meant radicals.
So when I see the radical for person as jin/nin, then we see the kanji also as jin but when used in vocab its never a jin/nin unless seen in a hiragana only vocab. is that correct?

I’m not sure where you’re coming from. Radicals have no readings. にん and じん are readings.

I’m not sure if this is beyond your level, but I actually made a video about 人 recently.

But it might just confuse you more, I’m not sure.

(Particularly where I reference the dictionary radical, which is different from what WK calls radicals.)


Vocab items are real words, how they’re pronounced, and what they mean.

にん・じん certainly appear in vocab such as 日本人にほんじん, that’s why those readings are taught with the kanji. However, the stand-alone word 人 is ひと.

The kanji are kind of like the Latin(/Greek/etc.) roots in English. If you see the word arachnophobia for the first time, but you already know that arachne means spider and phobia means fear, then you can guess the meaning. That’s about how the relationship between kanji and vocab works.

Let’s say English used pictograms. :spider: would be pronounced “spider,” and :spider::scream: would be pronounced “arachnophobia.” :spider: would have the same meaning in both cases, but different readings.

Sometimes words warp the pronunciation or take on new meanings, in which case knowing the roots/kanji won’t help as much.

If you want more info, on’yomi and kun’yomi are the two most common types of kanji readings.


That video really helped especially the first part. It got advanced but I will revisit that video for sure. Thanks once again.

1 Like

thats brilliant way of putting it. Its an interesting concept to wrap the brains around but then it makes perfect sense. Much appreciated

1 Like

I’m glad it makes sense!

Radicals -> Kanji have a similar (but probably weaker) relationship as Kanji -> Vocab.
For example, some kanji get their on’yomi reading from their main radical, and sometimes a radical is seen in a lot of kanji that have related meanings.

But radicals aren’t commonly studied in Japan as far as I know, and WK invents a lot of new meanings and uses unofficial radicals for the sake of making the kanji easier to learn.

1 Like

Great video but you need to work on your audio quality. What mic are you using and what’s your setup like?

i was freaking out that I am missing some link and the rails were about to come off :smile:
Now I can very very slowly see the pattern

1 Like

I have a nice mic, and I did things like noise removal, but I don’t have experience. Ask me in the thread for that video if you want, probably not the place here.


This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.