Repetitive Radicals

Can someone explain the radicals that come along and literally repeat a kanji we’ve already learnt which was already built up with radicals we had to learn??
For example the level 36 kanji 旧 built up from the two | and 日 radicals, that’s all good.
But then on level 39 what was the need to give me 旧 again this time as a radical with the same meaning as the kanji?
All but one radical in level 39 is redundant in this way, so I really don’t understand it. They literally retaught me 三 :sweat_smile:. Feels very inefficient

WaniKani fillers :thinking:.

It splits up the search results in a frustrating way too. I try to search for all kanji with a particular radical, but they’re arbitrarily filed under the different radicals.

Elongating the paid subscription service this way would be pretty trash so I’d hope there’s an actual reason.


The radicals here are only for making mnemonics, they aren’t meant to be used for categorizing the kanji, or acting as a true representation of the historical composition of the kanji. They convert kanji to radicals usually just so later kanji have mnemonics with fewer parts. If nothing ever got consolidated, you’d have some really long mnemonics.


I assume it’s largely a technical reason. Kanji are always built from radicals, so given that they want to give you bigger radicals from previously learned kanji, they have no choice. Maybe it’s something they can improve on eventually, so kanji can be built from radicals or other kanji. But that’s not possible right now.


Thanks for the answer!

That seems pretty stubborn :confused:
‘This kanji’s mnemonic includes radical a, b, c and kanji d’ seems fine to me
Or if they added a faster guru speed for those redundant ones that’d possibly solve the issue too. Guru after second review or something.

‘Spend a week re memorising this thing you already know so you can understand this story we wanna tell you’ as someone who hasn’t read the mnemonics since like level 10, bothers me :sweat_smile:


Well… I mean… The mnemonics are the core of the content of the site. Anyone could make a site that just puts the kanji into an SRS scheme, but without the mnemonics there wouldn’t really be “WK content”, so I don’t really fault them for… creating the site in a way that kind of assumes users will probably use the mnemonics. Anyone can move to anki or other systems that are free for just “memorize them on your own” style systems.

It’s true that many people don’t use them… But all I’m saying is I get why they make the site with the mnemonics at the core of the thought process.


I’m not sure I’d say it’s the core but regardless I see your point. What do you think about extra short review times for repeat radicals then? That seems like the most peaceful solution to me.

I hope they do improve it :pray:

They’ve changed the SRS system’s timeframes a few times, almost always making it possible to move faster, so it’s not out of the question that they would do it again. But hardly anyone moves at max speed anyway, so I don’t know that they’d see it as a priority. The last 15 or so levels can all be done in less than 4 days each, but very few people even attempt to do that.

We get a lot of complaints in the first few levels of the site being slow, but I don’t think there’s a lot of substance to the argument that WK is holding many people back in how fast they can complete it.


They recently made the SRS timings more flexible, so it’s theoretically possible for them to do this. I’d be curious to see their view on using that feature for this situation. I suspect they wouldn’t if only for consistency/explainability, but I could be wrong.

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How did they make things more flexible? I am sure I missed it while I was “away”, could you fill me in?

As for the original question, I agree that it seems silly to create a radical when you’ve already learned the kanji. It’s not really about going faster, it’s about doing busywork ‘learning’ something already known in a better way. Like learning algebra and then having to be told, “We’re going to review addition tables today. So, 2+2 …”

To speculate a very little bit, I imagine the ‘extra’ radicals are there to deal with something in their system. Either they can’t use kanji for mnemonics for some code reason. For example, all the hyperlinking going on on the individual kanji pages that might or might not accept that kind of messing around. Those pages are, I’m sure, hard to get right and breaking the flow might open a can of worms.

Another possibility I came up with was that they’re overly worried about making sure you get everything you need in order. I mean, it’s vanishingly unlikely, but not impossible, to have gotten to level 39 without guruing 三. That’d be a hell of a leech, though. But maybe they’re just covering the bases. Although, if that’s the case, the fact they let us reorder lessons becomes a little odd, because when learning vocab, they often reference other vocab, even from the same level, that with reordering you might not have seen yet.

In any case, I don’t really see it as a big deal, though it does seem a little absurd, whatever the reason for it.

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I know it’s weird, but I like them. They’re little freebies because they’re so easy. I know it’s counterintuitive, but it makes the lessons pile seem less onerous.

The Heisig/RTK method does what you suggest. You might want to check it out. I personally found it disorienting, though. Heisig would casually mention a keyword that I hadn’t memorized yet because it belonged to a kanji that I just saw ten entries ago. Having the radicals as a separate lookup area from the kanji has made it a lot easier for me to look up what I need when I need it.


It was a technical change that has had no impact on users so far. They built into the code support for multiple spaced repetition systems (each item being tied to one system), with any number of stages and durations. While they haven’t used this to implement any new user features yet, they theoretically could do so here.

More information here:


I find the problem more to do with kanji that consist of smaller kanji but wk doesn’t teach them as radicals so you end up with mnemonics that have more radicals than need be. 循 (circulate) for example can be seen as made up of 盾 (shield) and loiter but wk doesn’t teach shield as a radical so its mnemonic uses cliff + pope instead. I personally like kanjidamage’s mnemonic of loitering guards with shields circulating than whatever wk concocted with pope and cliff.


I take very little issue with anything WK does – it’s been great all the way through. But I definitely did a huge double-take when I saw the radical 三 on Level 39.


Fair enough. I have quibbles, things that I would do differently. But I’m an engineer and there’s very few things I don’t encounter and say “How could this be better?” It’s built into my brain. In WK’s case, there’s way more they get right than wrong, for sure. Which won’t stop me grousing a bit now and again about things that I don’t like, of course. :wink:


I’ve seen that system and I still like WK way better but there are some stubborn parts like this :sweat_smile:

It’s not an answer but do you mean like they did with 市 as a radical and kanji too. The reason they gave us was

You already learned the kanji 市, which means city. We’re treating it as a radical too, since it pops up in many other kanji. When used as a radical, it still means city.

Maybe it’s the same deal with 旧.

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Yeah, that definitely sounds weird, but I trust the WK people and I think they had a very good reason for doing that.

Also, I don’t think anyone relies on WK alone for learning kanji and vocab so I would treat “glitches” like this as freebies :slight_smile: .


I wish they did it MORE!
Lately I’ve had kanji with 4-5 story elements, when it clearly only needed 2 cause we know that half as a kanji already. I’ve ended up making my own mnemonics using the kanji meaning instead, to better remember it, basically making my own radicals out of kanji we know.


Yeah, I started doing that recently as well, since the original WK stories were beginning to get long ^^".

For instance, 了「りょう」- I need a lot of りょう to finish building my castle and continue my conquest of Japan as a daymio :stuck_out_tongue:

On the topic, I realized that getting Guru in 了 didn’t yield any new vocab :frowning: .