Unrelated vocab example sentences?


#1

So I keep coming across vocab context sentences that, when reading the given translation, seem to have nothing to do with the word I’m learning. I’m not sure if it’s just another meaning that wasn’t explained, or a figure of speech that doesn’t translate well, or what, but it’s really confusing and I’m not sure why it’s like this. And it happens fairly often, so I must be missing something

The best and most recent example I can give is for the word お兄さん. It means older brother, which is pretty straightforward. But then it hits me with this context sentence…

今日のたっきゅうびんのお兄さんのかおがタイプすぎた。
The mailman’s face was totally my type today.

No mention of a brother, older or otherwise. No synonyms in the vocab meanings saying it also means “mailman” or anything like that. What’s the deal here?


#2

Dictionary definition #3

お にいさん [2] 【お《兄さん》】

(3) 若い男性を親しみの気持ちで呼ぶ時に用いる語。
A word used to call / refer to a young man in a familiar way.

WK doesn’t list every possible translation by default. You can add an appropriate synonym if you want, but it’s always recommended that you look up words in dictionaries and not rely on the one-word translations.

Similarly お姉さん can be used for young women.


#3

兄さん・ちゃん is just used to refer to a younger guy or man. When you get to be a bit older (maybe 50s?), some might refer to you as おじさん (uncle), eventually ending in おじいさん (gramps). The same goes for women with お姉さん, おばさん and おばあさん.

It’s more often used indirectly to talk about people if you want to emphasize their age. It can sound pretty belittling, actually, so be careful.

In this context sentence, the speaker is affectionately emphasizing that the mailman is a younger man (therefore probably a bit hotter).

In fact, I do also want to add that using family terms is not so uncommon in many languages. Even in English, some people call their friends “bro” or “bruh,” and we might refer to an older man or woman as a little “grandpa” or “granny.”


#4

While it’s true that it’s technically correct, judging by the lack of other Kanji this is supposed to be one of the “easier” context sentences but it’s just a bad idea. (Edit: I looked at all the sentences, so I can’t tell for sure which one it is)

WK may not list every possibly translation by default, but the sentences are created in-house, there’s no good reason they shouldn’t match up with the definitions give, and in this case only “older brother” is given. I’ve also seen places where the reading taught isn’t even the one that is used.

There are plenty of dumb complaints about the example sentences but this is a very valid one.


#5

While the example sentences aren’t wrong, I’m fully on board with the criticism that sometimes they really obfuscate the connection between the meaning you learned and the example sentence itself.

You can sometimes figure it out, and certainly it’s good to understand that a single vocabulary word can have many translations depending on context. But I don’t think an example sentence is the place to get fancy with that. Sure たっきゅうびんのお兄さん is a correct use of the word, but if you’re brand new to the word, yeah, you’re going to look at that sentence and go “Well this doesn’t help me much.”

Or at least, it doesn’t help you right in that moment of learning a word for the very first time. A beginners’ kanji/vocab learning site isn’t really the best place for being asked to deal with that level of nuance. You’ll pick that up from other resources, or context. We’re just supposed to be building up a base of kanji and vocab here that we can refine elsewhere.

With nouns it’s often less of an issue because you’re less reliant on the example sentence in the first place. But for abstract concepts, or multiple vocab with identical or similar English meanings, I often find myself reading the example sentence to clarify WK’s exact intention - and sometimes coming away rather disappointed.

I assume this is something they’re addressing in their current project of overhauling the example sentences, so maybe it won’t be an issue for much longer.