Skipping radicals (probably for the 100,000th time already)

HellKitsune, there’s a third position:

Neutral learning WK radicals position:

  1. The WK radicals serve a useful purpose, but their naming makes it confusing for all but the abject beginner, and may cause some damage if you want to learn the “official” radicals down the line…
  2. The WK radicals are geared towards an English JSL audience, and for those such as Chinese, YMMV. A lot.
  3. The radical waters are very muddy even without WK wading into the crabigator infested waters, and WKs radicals both simplify the situation and make the waters muddier.
  4. It would be better if WK made absolutely clear what were “official” and what they made up. A little effort to avoid confusion would go a long way.

I put “official” in quotes because I know they’re not, except for by convention.

1 Like

The 2 categories are mainly for decision-making purposes. If you are thinking about learning/skipping WK radicals, you can’t really go with MAYBE learning them :laughing:

Edit: and yeah, I see what you mean. The titles I picked may suggest that there’s no middle ground at all, but of course that was not the point I was making as well.

That wasn’t really the point I was making - the point is that in addition to the pro- and anti- position, there’s a “do what you want but here’s the difficulty…” but maybe I just added to your points so meh. Maybe my points can be integrated with pro- and anti- with a bit of work, but I don’t want to put in that work, so time to do my reviews…

Firstly, I think you should consult a dictionary on “abject”, which to call a “beginner” is quite mean.
Secondly, i don’t think it will be difficult to learn 214 radical names after you’ve learned 3000 Kanji and 10k words and you can read fluently.
But i more or less agree with your other points. I think they should make it much clearer why the user should learn invented radicals and their names, and that the “official” radicals aren’t so official and useful. That often seems to create confusion.

I mean it in terms of “complete”. Like just coming into it knowing nothing but that kanji exist. I see the dictionary thinks of it differently than I, perhaps it’s a dialectical thing. For me, it’s a neutral word.

No, you’re right duskglow, you used it correctly: absolute beginners, those just starting = abject beginners. The other meaning isn’t bad either, it can be usedkind of like keigo/humble “I am your abject servant” but wouldn’t be used in this context, your meaning is correct.

And, to not just participate in the derail: I use mnenomics 0% and the radicals 0% myself, because until level 22 or so only about 5% of the kanji I encountered on WaniKani were new. The mnemonics were just a waste of time. Now at level 41…I only know about 5% of the kanji per level and I’m still doing good–to me the radical–>mnemonic system is just extra work.

I’m pretty sure for most people who already know some kanji it would be.

To the OP: Unfortunately you can’t skip them, but the pace will pick up quickly enough. It is frustrating for the first 10 levels until reviews get interesting, but hang in there! At least you have user synonyms!!

1 Like

Thanks. I knew my understanding of how to use that word couldn’t be that far off.

I use the mnemonics somewhat, but only for the yomikata, not for the kanji shapes. I guess everyone can pick out what they need from Wanikani.


Yes, when it’s in the left position it indicates body part or meat. There are only few exceptions :slight_smile:

1 Like

I don’t know how to explain…hmmmm…Chinese children don’t learn Chinese characters by story. Same as children from English-speaking countries don’t learn English by mnemonics.
As a kid, I once had a English lesson where the tutor used mnemonics to help Chinese children learn English. For example, he would say that “hell” means two long hooks (the double l) drag a person (“he”) into hell.
Maybe this could help to paint picture as to how a Chinese speaker see the kanji mnemonics: fun story, but not necessary.

As to how many kanjis I recognise…I roughly went through the kanji list before making this post, and I think around 80% is a safe bet. Either it’s the exact same kanji, or the traditional version, or adapted by Japanese but still recognisable (like 气 and 気).
Another example is 駅: this kanji is rarely used in modern Chinese, it is read yì, and also means station. But even if I don’t know this kanji, it’s still not hard to memorise (horse+ruler).

For Chinese speakers, the real trick is to not mix up the Chinese character and the Japanese kanji. Sometimes they look very similar, but one little difference leads to huge mistake:
壳 in Chinese means husk
売 in Japanese means to sell
The difference is only one stroke, but the meaning and the reading are faaaaar off. Even then, it would be like making an update on an existing app. You don’ really have to develop a new app for it😂


About the radicals…funny thing, I don’t remember learning all 200+ radicals in school.:joy: I think most people could get by with learning the most frequently used ones. (Don’t know how many that would be.)

Aside from the radicals, the rest of the kanji could be easily taken apart into simpler, more “basic” kanjis and described as such. Or just describe stroke combo works as well. So on level 1, when I saw that WK gives almost every stroke their own name was somewhat baffling😂

1 Like

I understand, but for example 一 as “ground” will be used in a lot of meaning mnemonics.
so, if you want to use WK’s mnemonics, it’s good (and easy) for you to memorize this mnemonic radical.
Though i just checked and this radical in particular doesn’t seem to be used for a lot of reading mnemonics.
Well, if you can recognize the meaning of 80% of WK’s Kanji, WK’s radicals may not be as necessary. But you’ll still have to make your own mnemonics for the other 20%, and for some readings that use radical names for mnemonics. And in my mind there’s not much doubt that longterm retention is better with mnemonics, especially with japanese because the meanings and readings are often so similar and hard to differentiate without them.

The meaning can be complete, but the connotation is usually negative.

Not everyone may view it as a negative connotation, but if it can be, i’d rather not use that word for other people.

I think I get it now. Westerners are probably just not used to them and need some more work to make them stick to their memory. More importantly:

O, wow. It’s a more lot than I was thinking. (Out of curiosity is that 80% true for the “main” readings as well?)

80% is a lot, and as some people already said it’s possible to live without using the WK mnemonics. I would probably go with skipping all radicals in your case. (The most important reason for this choice is the danger of mixing the two radical systems.)

I’ll be honest though, you would be using WK differently than most i.e. only for the
reviews system (a generic SRS) and a good ordering of kanji (and vocabulary).

I would probably go with free alternatives at this point. I mean setting up the system is a real hassle (I was creating my own deck on ANKI following RTK before this so I know…) but WK is quite pricey as well (at least for a student aka poor ). If you go magically fast you would spend ~ 110 $ to reach the last level, if you are slower (and choose lifetime, a sensible choice) ~200 $.

If you decide that it’s worth the cost, then welcome to WK :smile:
@Saimin posted the userscript you need to skip all radical review in one of the first posts.

yes, here’s the script that autofills radical names in reviews:

1 Like

Yes, 一 is one of the most basic radicals and appear in a bunch of kanjis. What’s baffling me is…why naming it “ground”, not “one” :joy:
Because it is the number one. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to remember it that way?
(In Chinese it’s also called the radical one)

But again, number one might be difficult to create a mnemonic around?


Thank you! I’ll take a look at that! :DD

No not the readings. I meant the meanings.
The reading is a whole different story :rofl:

1 Like

I don’t think mixing the two radical systems is a danger. It’s only about 200 “japanese” radicals. you’re also learning about 3 different readings per kanji ^^ you can learn a lot of parallel knowledge, like languages.

Pity, then it’s a gray thing. There’s no real best choice…it’s more a matter of preference. I read someone above who uses the mnemonics only for the readings:

You could do like them and use the mnemonics for reading only. (You would still have to learn WK radicals)

Or you could memorize the readings by yourself. Maybe finding some more words to reinforce the WK readings can help the process: looking up the kanji at gives you a lot of words. The average WK user doesn’t need as many because we can get one reading through a mnemonic, and however slow it may be, we eventually guess the reading of the word. You may need a little bit more of reinforcement i.e. more words with that one reading than us.

It’s not a substitute to WK but you may want to look up this other SRS:

It’s a SRS like WK. It doesn’t work with mnemonics or radicals and it doesn’t teach you the reading of an abstract kanji . It only teaches you words i.e. vocab. But it’s free (cannot say it will remain free forever unfortunately, I guess it depends on how much it spreads).

Check also the Kanji section in this page, in case there’s something of use to you:

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.