Useless Meanings

A classic example of how using mnemonics to “fill in” the actual meaning explanation of the word is useless. Why, oh WHY would you use the “suppose” meaning for 存 when both of these words could more properly be explained with the “existence” meaning of 存? That’s just the start of the problem though.

If the meanings of the words were actually explained, and not given mnemonics, then wouldn’t the user actually understand the use of the word, and more likely remember it? There’s maybe 4 words with “conservation” for a meaning, maybe seven words with “feeling” or “wish/hope/desire” but the use/real meanings of those words are lost on garbage, garbage mnemonics that don’t actually help understand the word. I mean, really? “We can preserve that, I suppose.”. Seriously? How is that the thing someone thinks when they see these two kanji, and then come up with the meaning?

I vote that the meanings section of every vocab be rewritten, with real, reasonable explanations as to why two kanji make up the meaning of the word, and the use of the word, and maybe even more importantly the distinction of one word from another similar word. Such basic needs for truly understanding a word and they are entirely taken up by goofy mnemonics thought up by a 12 year old, clearly. This is probably the most frustrating thing about wanikani, just above getting a word wrong because you used a different form of the word- say “transportation” instead of “transport”. facepalm

edit: Another much more useful function in the meanings section would be showing which words are synonyms (as in having the same meaning). For some reason there seems to be arbitrary points where there’s a distinction made between one word and another, or one word described as similar to another. That should be a required field for every vocabulary- synonyms and NON synonyms! Many Japanese words and English definitions have overlap but don’t have the same meaning! I can’t believe the site has existed as long as it has and this hasn’t… been addressed, honestly

Edit:: The suggestion that the meaning section of every vocabulary word should be rewritten should be corrected, because not all of them have this problem of insufficiently describing a word’s meaning. There’s a good portion of vocab words that are relegated a very loosely connected mnemonic and that’s it, and these usually don’t help any (in my experience). But not all, in fact maybe a majority of vocab words are relatively self-explanatory and probably don’t need much more than that anyways.


“suppose” used to be the primary meaning for the kanji. I guess they just haven’t gone back and updated all the mnemonics.

Just to add, people will take your concerns and suggestions more seriously if you don’t insult them in the process. For what it’s worth, they are currently in the process of rewriting a large number of the radicals and mnemonics, but this is a very time consuming process and isn’t done yet.


It sounds like you want a dictionary. Maybe you should consult one.

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You mean, insulting people isn’t going to get a faster, more caring, response? :thinking:


The primary aim of WK is to teach you how to read kanji. They do teach enough about the meanings so that you’re not in the dark completely, but teaching each word in a nuanced way would be an enormous endeavor that is outside of the scope Koichi envisions for the site.


Then why drill on the meanings at all? Why even expect an understanding of the meaning of the vocabulary if it doesn’t matter? Either do it reasonably or don’t do it at all, come on.

And I don’t agree that it has to be complex. Literally the effort put into bad mnemonics could have just been put into the right meanings, and synonyms. Synonyms is NOT hard


If you pay attention to the screen shot, I have two dictionary tabs up. Doesn’t address the problem


Wanikani offers mnemonics as their main method, they aren’t always the best, and I agree that these particular examples aren’t very useful, that doesn’t mean that mnemonics aren’t useful at all. If you don’t like their mnemonics, or would like to try a different method, feel free to ignore them, make your own or look/ask for different ones, or look for other resources, but I think WK is very clear in what they offer and why they recommend this method, and asking them to take a whole different approach isn’t reasonable, it might just mean that WK isn’t made for you.

There’s so much you can get from a kanji learning resource. If they did this, it would take the focus off of kanji, given the large amount of contextual cues they would have to provide explanatin for. A lot of times it’s not really a distinction but a nuance.

Use synonyms.

Sounds like something that could be done with a script. Have you checked if there’s one available that does this? If there isn’t one maybe you could ask kindly for it, see if it peeks someone’s interest, I know that there’s a thread for asking for scripts so you could start there.

No, that’s not how synonyms work.

I take it you haven’t been studying Japanese very long?

The term synonym in regards to studying Japanese usually refers to when two Japanese words are interchangeable, and it really, REALLY helps when it comes to understanding the actual meaning of a Japanese word.

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Sure, pal.

Check this thread. I think you might like this resource.

Certainly WK has issues when it comes to vocab meanings. They aren’t perfect and they’re constantly changing the meanings, but you should remember that the main focus is the kanji. When learning vocab, you should be consulting resources outside of WK as well as in reading.

I don’t know which mnemonics you’re referring to specifically as “goofy mnemonics thought up by a 12 year old”, and I also don’t see the relation it has to not understanding the distinction between two words, but again, WK isn’t primarily a vocab resource. You can’t get fluent in reading Japanese just from using WK and WK knows that, which is why WK isn’t marketed as an all in one resource. It literally takes less than 30 seconds to open up a dictionary site and to search the two similar words and compare.

And as other people have pointed out, user synonyms are a wonderful thing that many of us would be lost without.

This is just an aside, but

There’s no need to be condescending on here. Misunderstandings happen, and while there is a lot of heat on here, it’d be nice if people could avoid setting the place alight. That really goes to anyone though, not just you.


This doesn’t address the problem. It’s another way one could make up for what WK lacks, where it doesn’t have to.

Mnemonics are the site’s way of memorizing Kanji, and Vocab is used to reinforce the meanings and uses of the Kanji, yeah? So why use mnemonics to explain the meaning, instead of… I don’t know, explaining the actual meaning? I’m not saying rework the way the whole site works, I’m saying it makes no sense to use bad, weak connections between kanji meanings to create a mnemonic that doesn’t work INSTEAD of just explaining what it means and why it means it- literally a sentence or two, just like it already is. That’s not even hard.

In the pictures I used for reference it’s clear why I would get the vocab word wrong, because the association between the kanji used has overlap with other vocab words using similar kanji and having related meanings, but the descriptions of both do nothing to help one actually understand the use of the kanji to MAKE the meanings that they do.

Dictionaries give English equivalents, and they’re usually the same meanings WK gives anyways. The actual discerning of a word and why the kanji that makes it up makes it different from something else is not what you get out of a dictionary. Trust me, I have Goo and Jisho open every time I’m using WK.

This was in response to

Which felt condescending in itself, considering I speak English and have been studying long enough to be at lvl 23. Unless of course this person really didn’t know what I meant by synonym in this context, to which I reason “Maybe this person hasn’t been studying long enough to know what I mean.” My response was not condescending, it was honest curiosity.


This is where reading comes in. It’s important to see the words in context in order to understand the nuances of them. Also, depending on your level, you should check out Weblio if you want a slightly more native definition.

I assumed that was the case. Also, formatting a question like that is often done to be condescending, particularly online. Regardless of your intentions, it could easily be interpreted that way. If you just didn’t think it would be, then that’s fine.

I mean, yes, the nature of learning language is reading, listening and using it to figure out the different nuances. I know it’s a more complex process then just a couple sentences describing the difference- but I’m not talking about perfect understanding, I’m talking about what WK expects from a user and what it’s actually equipping them with. WK expects their users to “understand” the meanings of vocabulary by means of really weak, loose connections provided by whoever wrote the meanings section- I assume Koichi. If the expectation is to remember what the “meanings” of a word are then the description of those meanings should readily equip the user to do so, and I absolutely do not think that’s the case

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Don’t rely on E-J dictionaries. They are not what people mean when talking about using a dictionary to learn the nuances.


I would love if you were to elaborate here, as it might provide insight for me and anyone else who finds this to be a substantial problem with WK

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They have the same issues that WK has, just defining Japanese words with English glosses.

A monolingual dictionary has the actual nuances in there.

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Oh, well yeah. That’s why I use Goo dictionary- it’s all in Japanese, and even has the dictionary used for distinguishing words. I have THOSE TWO tabs open in the screenshot in my initial post. I thought you meant something else, hahaha

I’m sorry if it felt condescending, that was not my intention. I think I should have explained what I meant by it or not say anything, I just don’t feel like writing a thorough explanation right now, my bad.

We must definitely be talking about different things, because your comment made no sense to me, that’s why I didn’t actually respond to it. :sweat_smile:

So did you try looking for scripts?

EDIT: Here’s the thread I was talking about to ask for scripts.

I’m on my cell phone. I’m not going to zoom way in to read the tabs on your picture when they aren’t relevant to your initial post.

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