The vocab 波 (wave) is read as なみ but the reading mnemonic makes no mention of the word "tsunami"

Isn’t “tsunami” a pretty well known word among English speakers?



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So… they call the “water” radical in its three-stroke form “tsunami” and they mention a tsunami in the meaning mnemonic for 波 but when it comes to the reading, they just assumed we’ve never heard of this strange, obscure Japanese word ever before?

Sometimes I really don’t understand how this website works


In fact, I don’t think WaniKani ever uses later vocabulary items as mnemonics for readings (with the notable exception that “Kyoto” is used as a mnemonic for the きょう reading and “Tokyo” for the とう reading). For me, though, knowing a word which uses that kanji and that reading is the easiest way for me to remember it.

For example, the kanji 覇 in level 52. What’s the reading? It’s used in 覇権 = hegemony, but when am I ever going to need that word?

Knowing it’s the は in 那覇なは, the capital of Okinawa? Now it’s easy.


Sometimes I just make my own mnemonics, for stuff like this


I did use tsunami to remember that as well - also, the vocab item tsunami will come later. Maybe it’s such an obvious way to remember it that they decided to give you a second option for a mnemonic?


I don’t think it is that obvious, those connections to words you already know are easy to overlook. Heck, I wasn’t even consciously aware that “tsunami” is a Japanese word until this discussion, even though it is painfully obvious in hindsight.


Yeah, I have that with quite a few words. Realizing tofu was Japanese explained for me why I’ve seen it written both as tofu and tahoe - they’re different romanizations of the same word.

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… Run that past me again?


波 (wave) is read as なみ but the reading mnemonic makes no mention of the word “tsunami”

Thank you, I did not make that connection!

At some point I’ve encountered a similar situation with some other kanji and then tried to google explicitly for a list of loan words from Japanese that could help with remembering kanji readings, unfortunately did not find much.


Is “tahoe” a romanization for some other language’s pronunciation? It doesn’t work from an English speaker’s perspective. As an American I can only think of the pronunciation of the lake or the car model, lol.


A quick Googling seems to indicate that “tahoe” is Indonesian / a transliteration of Indonesian “tahu”, which is cognate with Japanese “tōfu” but has been loaned via Hokkien-Chinese “tāuhū” (and I think the macrons are a tone marker here, rather than a marker of enlongated vowels as in Japanese transliterations).

(source: Tofu - Wikipedia)


And somehow that works out to sounding like とうふ? Hmm.

EDIT: Started before your edit. Ah, if it’s not adopted from Japanese I don’t know that I would say it’s “another romanization” since that makes it sound like it’s supposed to sound like Japanese, but I see the connection.

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Yeah, I found similar, except (a) the spelling is “taho”, (b) it’s Philippine, not Indonesian, and (c) it came direct from Hokkien, with no detour through Japanese.

(Though there may be a “why not both?” thing going on here.)

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The story I found about Indonesian “tahu” also indicates that the word came to Indonesia from Japan via Hokkien, not from Hokkien via Japan. Sorry if that wasn’t 100% clear from my wording.

The root word of all of these variants is clearly Japanese “tōfu”, everything else is directly or indirectly derived from that.

(Though there may be a “why not both?” thing going on here.)

Yeah, that seems pretty likely.


No, the root of all these words is the Middle Chinese “doufu”, as suggested by the use of on’yomi in the Japanese form.


Dang. Yes, I had a brainfart. It says so clearly in the Wikipedia article I linked and I even read that part and then immediately forgot.

Yes, you’re right, MC “doufu” is the origin.

(My first comment doesn’t actually imply the word comes from Japan, just that the Japanese and Indonesian words were cognate - which does not mean they are directly derived from one another, just that they share a common origin.)


Um… I don’t think so, because tofu originated in China. The Wikipedia page you linked itself says so. Plus, tōfu is an on’yomi. Here’s a quote from the article about how tōfu reached Japan:


Tofu was introduced to Japan during the Nara period (late 8th century) by Zen Buddhist monks, who initially called it “Chinese curd” (唐腐, tōfu ).[7] Much of tofu’s early use in East Asia was as a vegetarian substitute for meat and fish by Buddhist monks, especially those following Zen Buddhism.[7]

The earliest Japanese document concerning tofu refers to the dish being served as an offering at the Kasuga Shrine in Nara in 1183.[20] The book Tofu Hyakuchin (豆腐百珍), published in the Edo period, lists 100 recipes for cooking tofu.

The original word may not have been dòufǔ as it is in Mandarin today, because almost all Chinese dialects have undergone a lot of pronunciation changes, but it was definitely something similar. The fact that tōfu used to be written as 唐腐 in Japan indicates that it probably was imported when the Tang Dynasty still ruled China. It’s possible that tōfu is a 唐音 (Tang-era Chinese pronunciation) as well.

EDIT: Ah, I see you’ve already responded to @Belthazar’s post on the same topic. Oops.


Your insight is interesting nonetheless.

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Oh, yes, I nearly forgot:

About this, yes, I think so. My mother speaks Teochew, which is very close to Hokkien. (The two are generally more or less mutually intelligible.) If I remember correctly, tāu and hū are pronounced at roughly the same pitch and in the same fashion. I think our tone goes down a little more on hū, but I think that’s just the result of it being the end of a phrase. In contrast, 豆花 (dòuhuā in Mandarin, ‘tauhwe’ in Hokkien and Teochew)… well, I don’t know the transliteration, but I can tell you that we say ‘tau’ at a low pitch – the same as in ‘tāuhū’ – and ‘hwe’ at a higher pitch. They’re not the same tone, that’s for sure. (I’m not a Teochew speaker myself, but I grew up hearing it at my grandparents’ place. My mother likes quoting Teochew phrases too.)

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