Newbie here - Questions regarding Level 1 stuff


Just started WaniKani a few days ago. It’s a lot of fun so far! I’m having a much better time with it than the standard Anki decks that get suggested a lot.
To my surprise I am actually struggling with a few things on Level 1, which is a little startling. Struggling this early on is a bit concerning, but maybe it will get easier the more I get used to everything. I guess it’s unreasonable to expect Japanese to just click with you right out the gate.

On to my questions:
1.) I’ve noticed that the pronunciation of some Kanji is the same despite having totally different meaning, such as 工 (construction) and 口 (mouth) are both either pronounced こう or く. How would you differentiate these in conversation? I’m guessing it’s contextual, I haven’t dug too deep into grammar yet, but i’m definitely curious.

2.) Some Kanji (despite not sounding like it in pronunciation) have their vowels dragged out. Any tips on getting this down better? For example, 女 is じょ (Jyo) while 十 is じゅう (Jyuu). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten 女 wrong just because my brain keeps telling me to type じょお, or I leave out the う in 十. Unfortunately the mnemonics, while useful for associating meaning to symbol, don’t really help when remembering extended vowels. It’s a little discouraging since I feel like I did a good job remembering it otherwise, but my progression is stunted due to a simple extended vowel being dropped.

3.) Lastly, would it be worth my while to take the time to study between reviews? Or is that no good when paired with an SRS system? I’m really eager to advance since I set a goal to hit a level where i’m ready to take on the N5 before the year ends, but if studying is detrimental to SRS systems then I guess I should just be patient.

Thanks for reading and any answers I get.
Now off to make sure I type “toe” instead of “to” when reviewing the radical ト. That’s what I get for studying Kana so hard prior to starting WaniKani.


The long vowel strings take a little getting used too. You can hear them in the audio. I practice saying the words, and I think that it helps.
じょ and じょう are the worst. :frowning:

Actually, it is worth while to do extra studying. The SRS adjusts itself to how familiar with the material. If you are supplementing Wanikani with Kaniwani, and grammar, and listening, or maybe the quiz app, your repetitions will zoom off into the future, and you will have more time for new material.
The problem is only so many hours in the day. :slight_smile:

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Thanks for your fast response!
That makes me feel a bit better knowing that it just takes time to get used to long vowels. When I went over the kanji for the first time the lessons didn’t even address it like it was no big deal, yet here I am struggling with it. :smile:

I’ll be sure to do a bit of studying between reviews. I’m fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to work on Japanese during downtime, so i’ll usually just keep my dashboard up to monitor for reviews.
You mentioned a quiz app though, where would I find that?

Thanks again!

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It is, and your ear gets trained to hear it. Definitely practice saying them out loud and exaggerating the long vowel until the other “just sounds wrong.” But the contextual part is why it’s super important to get that right, and also pitch accent, because the listener is using those cues in addition to semantic context to disambiguate on the fly. Dropping the long vowel sound might make it sound like a different word completely. Messing up the pitch accent doesn’t usually make it a different word, but makes it much harder to understand at speaking speed.

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This answer probably isn’t gonna sound the most fun, but most of this just resolves itself with time and repeated usage. When to use long vowels vs short vowels etc just becomes a matter of second nature once you’ve cemented the word into your brain through a bunch of practice in speaking it and hearing it.

As for studying between reviews, if you’re serious at all about Japanese, I’d say it’s not only a good thing but essential to be doing other studying besides Wanikani. Wanikani is only going to help teach you to recognize and write kanji (and even that is only through computers unless you’re practicing your writing as you do your reviews), plus some vocab as well. I’d recommend getting a comprehensive Anki vocabulary deck such as one of the Core2k/6k decks, as well as start on a grammar book like Genki or Minna no Nihongo as well. And do lots of listening/speaking practice! That will help resolve some of the issues you’ve been facing.

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Hello and welcome!

I feel you, mate, I feel you. But you have to get used to it. ctmf already told you about the accent stuff, I just want to add a reason for this phenomenon I’ve read: The japanese language only has a small amount of possible syllables. You have basically the fifty something Kana plus the combinations with small やゆよ (digraphs), making about hundred possible syllables. Every word has to be built with those. Considering for example the english language, you have much bigger supply of sounds, since you can combine several consonants, build diphtongs, etc.: Take the word “crunch”, it’s only one syllable. In japanese, you would need at least four: ku-ra-n-chu.
Given this, it is still needed to build many thousands of word.In order to do so, you either have to make the words longer and longer, or to give one word several meanings. Japanese people appearently chose the latter solution…

Imo the best way is listening to native speakers and trying to memorize the pronunciation. Maybe watch movies, anime, whatever you like.
Still, I think you can say as a rule of thumb: In most cases, lengthened お are written おうand え as えい. Has something to do with kun/yomi, see here.

Good luck studying!

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Neither 工 or 口 will ever appear in a sentence alone and be pronounced as こう. If 工 appears alone, it will be pronounced たくみ, but this is a somewhat rare word meaning workman, or artisan. If 口 is by itself, it will be pronounced くち.

What you referred to, こう, is only used when these characters appear in compounds. So, for instance, 工事 (こうじ construction) or 口語 (こうご colloquialism, spoken language).

I wouldn’t worry about homonyms until you actually get to the words. Right now you’re just referring to kanji, which have many possible readings depending on the context, and WK only starts by teaching you one of them.


I don’t think anyone has addressed this part, so I will. In case you didn’t know, you can add your own synonyms for things like this. You can do so during reviews or on the radical/kanji/vocab pages themselves. You can even add synonyms during lessons with this script.


You’re saying now would not be a good time to mention 人口 and 人工, then? :stuck_out_tongue:


Obviously I considered it, but I figured the current situation was overwhelming as it was. But the answer for those is that they almost never will appear as the same part of speech, it’s not that hard to distinguish them. Just like homonyms in other languages.


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