Pain Point with Wanikani Example Sentences

Hey guys! I’ve been using Wanikani for a while now, and I really enjoy it. However, there is one massive annoyance for me relating to the example sentences. Take a look at the words in the following sentences:

コウイチは昔はけんけんをするのがとく意だった。<- sentence for 昔
気にするなって。失ぱいは成功のもとだよ。<- sentence for 成功

So both of these words are compound Kanji words, but one of the kanji in those words is not yet known at my level. (e.g. 得意 for とく意), and the way WaniKani handles this is by writing half the word in kana and half in Kanji. This is borderline unreadable for me, as there are lots of different ways I could read とく separately from 意. I would much rather have the unknown kanji written out in compound kanji words, and just have the kana written on top of the parts I don’t yet know. Has anyone else run into this?

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I’m not sure I understand what you mean. I guess you could try to read it as though とく was a verb. I’m not really sure what other way would be possible.

とく means a whole slew of things, including a couple adverbs: https://jisho.org/search/とく

I think even if that specific case isn’t super confusing, there are lots of cases I didn’t bother to list that run the risk of being super ambiguous.

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Right, most of them wouldn’t be grammatically valid options, though.

To get to your main point, yes, this is a difficult way to write things out for non-natives. Natives are used to seeing sentences like this at school, where teachers will write the kanji they (the children) know and leave the kanji they don’t know as hiragana.

But it’s true that native children have the advantage of already knowing the grammar and vocabulary to be able to know とく意 is 得意 without having to think about it.

Here, I think they expect you’ll look at the translation to get the gist and not worry too much about exactly what とく is in kanji.

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Fair enough. I’m using the sentences to practice full translation, so I may be using them beyond their intended purpose. I’m kind of amazed that writing a word in half kana / half kanji is a common practice for native speakers, since I rely on those differences to split words apart.

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If your grammar knowledge isn’t that far along yet, the possibilities are endless. It gets hard to intuit whether a kana is part of a word with a kanji, or a word on its own. Especially when you consider that Japanese partly uses kanji and kana to distinguish between words in writing and increase legibility.

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They have promised to fix this for ages, but I guess corona happened, so…

This doesn’t seem like a very sustainable way to learn to parse sentences. Using this heuristic you’d treat ビー玉 or 消しゴム each as two separate words? Those are a half-kana / half-kanji word that will always be written that way and those aren’t going to be the only words you encounter like that.

And it’s also not just going to be school-related material where you will encounter this half-kanji/half-kana words. Native material will do it as well such as Shounen Jump manga where, if the target audience is considered too young to have learned some kanji, the author will substitute in kana in place of a higher grade level kanji. This won’t be something you just encounter on WK, just FYI.

Edit to add and sometimes I’m not even sure that it has anything to do with the kanji being too high level. For example, on a page in Dr. Slump for some reason Toriyama chose to write the word 兄弟 as 兄だい. :man_shrugging:t2:

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I wouldn’t recommend using the example sentences on WK as practise examples because they seem to me to be more there so you can understand the nuance of the vocab.

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Yeah some are pretty off-the-wall bonkers.

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Well, they don’t need a crutch to split words apart, since they are native speakers.
But yes, you’ll that a lot if you try to read books aimed at primary school students. かの女 always cracks me up :grin:

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Did they? I thought they intended on doing it like this, because they didn’t want to have learners see kanji they don’t know. They won’t go the furigana route (as is, having furigana for unknown readings/kanji) because you could use any other available furigana tool to add furigana to the example sentences either way.

This is their explanation:

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It is the fast way though, and how people who are fully literate in Japanese do…

Not looking to get into another compound words in English argument, but there’s plenty of English words with (multiple) spaces in the middle, which is basically an equivalent concept - spaces/kanji-kana changes mark potential word boundaries, and if you know better you combine them. It’s much easier to do it that way round than trying to work out where the word boundaries might be from nothing…

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Except that person clearly said their method failed on compound words written in half-kana / half-kanji since they were using that as an artificial word boundary. These are not going to be uncommon in native material. So you’re saying natives assume half-kana and half-kanji are two separate words? Because I don’t think that’s true… Seems you’re arguing a point I wasn’t making? For example, I doubt any native is going to have read Dr Slump and thought 兄弟 written as 兄だい was two separate words whereas the OP’s parsing method would and they’d get tripped up.

Who said use nothing? Split using knowledge about particles, verb conjugations, known grammatical expressions, etc. Not an artificial notion that compound words can never be part kana and part kanji. That will get you a better starting point than assuming kana before or after a kanji implies the start of a different word.

At first glance, more or less…and then they realise from the surrounding context that it makes no sense and put it back together.

Ok, poor word choice on my part. Does “by parsing the grammar” work better? It’s slow trying to build everything up from individual characters rather than starting from coarser structures, so you start big, and then use the other stuff only when you need to, is my point.

Ultimately though the only thing that matters is reading enough to get good at reading so this conversation is probably fruitless…

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If they are common words, it’s fair game… not doubt frustrating when trying to learn though. Get chills thinking about kana only study material designed to ‘help’ students.

Noted 意 is on L19…would help if there was a furigana option at least for early levels, it would make the sentences more useful for beginners and have a head start on the reading when they come to learn it (better than the sentences getting ignored completely).

Even better, you can do the hide furigana option like BunPro does, so when you had the lesson for a particular kanji the furigana disappears in sentences (leaving just unknown kanji w/ furigana). Or could even be done by level threshold or something.

Came across this today, they had 蔽 in a sentence but not taught in WK at all. Again, furigana would be nice here just to know the reading to get through it without having to look it up.

Sentence if curious

警察は自分たちの不祥事を隠蔽しようとしているんだ。
The police are going to cover up our scandal.

They only do the ‘unknown kanji in kana’ thing for the first one or two of the context sentences, if there are three.

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Up until death I see, that’s alot of missing kanji within sentences. I forgot when it got cutoff.

Would still prefer the suggested above to keep as much kanji in sentences as possible while keeping it readable, I think it’s better practice…but of course that is a lengthy overhaul to change, oh well.

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