Radicals, Conflicts, and Naming Conventions

Firstly - love the site and all it does for us! Some fantastic work (and one of the best vocab resources out there). However, there are a couple issues.

The radical 中 has one answer only “middle” - yet in every other instance that it appears as a standalone (kanji or vocab) it is listed as “center”. Having congruity would be very helpful!

The biggest issue with radical learning here is… little to no consistency with Japanese. Perhaps it is just me, but when I ask the Japanese instructor at my school (I work in Japan, so I refer to the Japanese person who teaches Japanese to Japanese students) what the kanji with the two-face triceratops with a nailbat in a raptor cage is…he just stares at me blankly unless I draw them on paper and say "このぶしゅは、何のいみですか。”

In Japan, each radical (ぶしゅ) has a designated name - I think that it would be much more helpful to have radicals listed by both the correct Japanese term AND the Hipsterism. Or, at least, have the option to keep radicals entirely out of testing (as a toggled option) should we choose…

But, nitpicking aside, I have literally no genuine complaints about WaniKani. Even just the first three free levels is helpful, and the remaining levels will be fantastic (I have several friends who use the full access package - and even the advanced learners find this site extremely helpful).

I have been using WK for a little while now, and I must agree that, for me, the radicals just get in the way, especially as they are not radicals in the proper Japanese sense. I get that they are used as building blocks on WK to use in mnemonics, but they are quite annoying.

Having said that, I do see quite a lot of learning progress on my end, so it’s clearly working… The ends justify the means for me, in this particular case, so for the sake of progress, I intend to stick with this :slight_smile:.

It’s been covered many times, as a search would have shown. There are no “proper” radicals, when you get down to it, and WK is not teaching you the Japanese radical system, it’s a tool to learn a large(ish) number of kanji, using a proven teaching technique.


WK doesn’t use radicals the way Japanese people use radicals, so there’s no need for them to be identical. And because of that WK has far more radicals than you could even match up with the Japanese.

I entered “rice field” on the radical 田 “rice paddy” and got it wrong so after that I just began to add synonyms for radicals with identical kanji as I unlocked them. First problem gone.

You could do the same with the “real” names for the radicals and just maybe add “fake” or something as a synonym for radicals that WaniKani create themselves. It’s doable.

I was against the WaniKani radicals in the beginning but they start to appear much less rather quickly so they don’t bother me at all now. If I need/feel like, I’ll take time later down the road to learn the “proper” list of radicals by their real names.


This comes up from time to time, I think the next version of WK will have that covered by accepting more possible replies.

The current “radicals” are intentionally strange to come up with sometimes hilarious mnemonics, WK trains kanji recognition but on its own it doesn’t give the full picture. I think it’s better to divide and conquer instead of throwing all information at you at the same time. It wouldn’t be that much fun if you would need 5-10 minutes just to read the information of a single new kanji (which is probably why “just looking at a lot of kanji” is not the best method to remembering them).

Once you remember the gist of a kanji it’s much easier to study the details.

The radicals do feel out of place and strange when reviewed on their own, but they become useful when learning kanji mnemonics later. And since they exist on WK purely for the mnemonics, how they’re handled makes sense for WK’s purposes. But no, it won’t help you discuss radicals with a Japanese person. And it’s caused me quite a lot of confusion when trying to use radical-based kanji lookup tools like jisho.org’s.

These days, I’ll typically just override an incorrect answer on a radical (granted this happens very infrequently) because radical reviews are simply not important enough to me to hinder kanji unlocking. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a kanji wrong because I forgot the name of one of its constituent radicals, but at the same time I have gotten a lot of kanji right by remembering the radical’s role in the mnemonic.

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I wonder if naming them “Kanji parts” instead of radicals would reduce the number of complaints threads like this.

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I doubt it.

I wonder what these people propose you do with the vast majority of radicals on here which are not 部首 and do not have “names” a such.

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All radicals are named in Japanese. And radicals are taught, just like kanji, from the very first year of elementary school in Japan. But, as I posted above… it’s just my nitpicking - not a genuine complaint. I find the site quite helpful as an addition to the tools I have to learn (such as the books they use to teach Japanese students Japanese). The more tools a person has to use to learn a language, the better their chances are at fully understanding it.

As such, here’s one of the links my Japanese friends use to look up kanji: Kanjitisiki - 漢字辞典

I hope that is helpful for others! It is a bit tough to navigate at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is immensely useful!

All 部首 have names in Japanese (though many do have multiple names), but there are more WK radicals than there are 部首, so you can’t possibly match them up. They’re not the same linguistic idea. WK radicals are “kanji parts,” which is not what 部首 are, since each kanji has only one 部首, regardless of how many parts it has.

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Aaaaaahhhhhh - I see what you’re getting at. I misunderstood, my mistake. That makes much more sense now (and also clears up the suggestion for “kanji parts” rather than radicals).

Just gunna throw this resource out here for radicals (you can search by number of strokes on the right) - and of course, search through the rest of the site for kanji in general (it is all in Japanese), for example, the box at the top left side has kanji for elementary and junior high (and more)! The teachers at the school I work at use this (as do many other Japanese people) to find kanji they’re not quite sure of.

For radicals by stroke order:

For the root site:

I hope this helps some people out in their continued pursuit of learning Japanese beyond Wanikani!

All good arguments. Would like to see WaniKani add more accepted terms for radical names. When I first started 用 (elephant) seemed fine, 广 (mullet) seemed a bit odd, but I get the imagery.

As I start using more resources the generally accepted terms for those two (task and slanted roof respectively) means I mess up half the time in whatever tool I’m using because I now have to remember which software is using which name.

Love WaniKani, making much better progress than with other software I’ve used.

Just realize they’re mainly pointless english terms. 广 has an actual name, it is まだれ. So virtually anything else is just some name someone made up at some point.

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