Radicals turning into other radicals makes it hard to remember old kanji

So my example is 招, beckon - Wanikani treats this as three separate radicals. But later it introduces 召 the radical for joker, so subsequent kanji treat the two radicals sword and mouth arranged in this way as a single radical. This has cause me to forget a lot of old kanji because they begin too look different because I think about the radicals differently. I dont know if theres anyway around this but its causing me some grief so I thought I’d bring it up


I was literally about to post the same complaint. In my case its 海 = gun+tsunami+window when the previous level had 毎 as ‘every’. Since radicals don’t mean anything and the ultimate goal is to learn the kanji, not the radicals, it seems wrong that 海 isn’t tsunami + 毎


Of course, the radical氵is just a variant of 水 and also means water so 海 is literally “every + water”. It doesn’t always work out this nicely, but sometimes knowing the real meanings of the real radicals can help.

To the original complaint, I agree. It’s almost like we need mnemonic variants for when we learn these bigger “radicals”. So each kanji could potentially have more than one set of radicals and a different mnemonic for each set.


This also shows up fairly often with whole kanji which haven’t been made radicals at that point (or at all in WaniKani.)
For example, 割, which appears just a level or two after 害. I always think of 割 as “damage + ribs,” not “helmet + life + mouth + ribs” or whatever WaniKani says for 割.


Yeah, it bugs me so much that Koichi never mentions variant radicals, especially considering how often kanji which use the 氵 radical have meanings related to water or other fluids, or kanji with the 灬 (火 variant) radical have meanings releated to heat.

Found another on the same level, 歩 = stop + small + slide instead of stop + few.

Edit: And 活 = tsunami + thousand + mouth instead of tsunami + tongue, because the tongue radical isn’t until level 8.

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At least “tsunami” is related to “water”. “Fire” changing to “fish tail” loses all connotation and make mnemonics much harder. 灬 even looks like a fire or fire pit (much more than a fish tail) so it’s a missed opportunity.


For me, the arbitrary use of radicals to compose a kanji is the hardest part of WK. There is just no real consistency which makes it hard to remember old kanji or stick to new stories. For example: after learning 員 as member it I can’t stick with the mnemonic for 賞 cause I always see a member of the vikings there and not a viking that shoots a clam in the mouth.

Unfortunately I can’t use Kanji Koohi or RTK for alternative stories cause WK uses different Radical names.
So I have to write my own stories for many of the Kanjis to include the more consistent radical composition (in the mentioned example “Member + Viking” would be more consistent in my eyes). And that is quite time consuming.

Now the question is if there already exists any list with alternate mnemonics for kanji using the WK names? Similar to Kanji Koohi but with stories based on the radicals names in WK? Sharing those stories could save users who have the same problems with WK’s radical composition a lot of time.


Yep… I’m starting to think that I should create my own mnemonics. . By the way, that’s also nice and should be encouraged… But I’m afraid of loosing them if something happens to the database… Maybe some script like the kanji damage one to show anki or quizlet mnemonics from your account…

I am new here.
I know sometimes radical names out of WK. It feels always strange when they are different but… Probably it is good to peek regularly at other sites, or to write in the notes also the officials names for radicals, if we find them more helpful.

About building a kanji with radicals… There are always strange cases, kanji that can be split differently et cetera.
On the bottom there is always a small pencil to click to give feedback. If you think a meaning should be included, even if secondary, a radical name is misleading, the splitting could be done better or the order in which radicals and kanji could be given should be improved… Click on it, give precise examples, send!

I do not know how suggestions are dealt with… But I think they are considered. Users can be great testers and help improving WK!

I think it’s important to not become over-reliant on the radicals as a means for distinguishing the kanji. When reading, the goal is that you’re able to read the entire kanji, instead of as several pieces, much like how most people read entire words based on shape, in latin scripts. Once a kanji is learned, (Guru+), it’s shape alone should be enough to differentiate it. Only if it’s faded to the point of “have i ever seen this before?!” should the radicals be useful again. When you encounter the kanji again with a compound radical, it should already have it’s shape embedded in you mind.

This is totally true, but the point of the radicals and the mnemonics is to help you through that early stage where you don’t recognise the kanji instinctively. If you’re getting muddled up between the radicals at that point then it’s a bit counterproductive.

I always get confused when they use the ‘blue’ radical - I look at the kanji and go “ok, so it’s life, moon… I don’t remember anything to do with the moon?”

Blue moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own


Grease right? :smiley:

This is going to happen more often the higher level you get, as they run out of “official” radicals and having kanjis with 5+ radicals in it is going to be difficult to remember/make a good mnemonic of.

I do agree with it becoming more difficult to remember older Kanjis part. However, After a while you probably won’t be relying on those radicals anymore and just recognise it without the mnemonics. I.e. I can’t remember 90% of the mnemomics from the first 20 levels but I do know the readings and meanings of them :slight_smile:

Oh and when I do face the same problem, I often “convert” those older kanji mnemonics to use the newer combined radical instead

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Yes, that would be an ideal scenario. But as for me, many of the older and already enlightened Kanji completely faded out of my memory so when they are reviewed after a long time I can’t see anything but the radicals and then I try to remember the story. But the story can’t be triggered because KW introduced other Kanji in the meanwhile that uses the same patterns of radicals but with a different meaning.

A solution would be a complete rewriting of radicals and mnemonics in WK. When a pattern of two or more radicals forms a Kanji, WK has to stick with this meaning. But as for now, if new Kanji with the same pattern are introduced, WK splits up this pattern into radicals again instead of sticking with the previously learned meaning. In some but not all cases WK is introducing new radicals with the meanings of previosly learned Kanji. That should be done with all patterns of radicals that can be found in more than one Kanji. That would avoid inconsitencies in meaning and mnemonics.

Gonna keep being elitist here, and say that if you still need the mnemonics, you don’t know it by heart, and you should be failing it. It doesn’t need solving, at least for the reviews. Maybe you have a case that it’s confusing when learning new stuff, but then again, you don’t lose much time or effort when failing items in aprentice, so it’s not a big deal anyways. Even stubborn items stick after failing them two or three times in a day, at least for me.

Concerning entering your mnemonics into a database and being afraid of losing them: One way of looking at it is that if you need to check a database to remember what mnemonic you used, the mnemonic might not be doing it’s job, since it’s not memorable enough. And in that case, you are probably better off just imagining a new, more memorable, mnemonic.

But I agree that creating your own mnemonics is more powerful than relying on someone elses, but relying on someone elses is a lot less work. It’s a trade-off of sorts.

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