Vocabulary with lots of kana isn't very useful for memorizing kanji

There’s probably a lot more like this but this is just the one that occurred to me today.

エッフェル塔 and バベルの塔 are not going to help me remember 塔. My brain will remember the kana and work from there and not even look at the kanji before it’s worked out what the word is.

I know that vocab is useful in its own right, certainly the notion that 塔 can be placed on the end of something to name a particular tower is useful. But you certainly don’t need two of them in that case, I’m pretty sure most people don’t talk about the Tower of Babel a lot… right?

In summary, vocab should be either effective at aiding memorizing the kanji or simply useful in their own right. Some things feel like they’re playing with that line a little too much.

That’s my comment!

I was wondering today what the point of having both 興味 and 興味がない as vocab items was. The 2nd one is basically just a sentence using the word. There are no other kanji, it’s not a different meaning or reading, it’s just the word in a sentence. Why?

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the way i find that they help is through verbal memory. in other words, my brain somehow tends to remember it as a whole separate unit, rather than just the sum of its components. for example, “eiffel” and “tower” are two separate words, but “eiffel tower” probably sticks in your head as a distinct unit, doesn’t it? if you say “eiffel”, it feels like tower should come next.

a similar example of this with WaniKani I just ran into today: I seem to remember 貯金箱 far more distinctly than 貯金, despite it being an overlapping word! so knowing 貯金箱 helps me remember 貯金 significantly better.

it’s possible this only happens because i use kamesame, though; i’m not sure if i’d get the verbal memory effect with wanikani alone.

alternately, i suppose wanikani is just trying to come up with something, anything to avoid having a kanji only be present in a single review item…


Anecdotal, but it’s a major landmark in the light novel series I am reading, so it comes up like 20 times per book. :woman_shrugging:

That being said, the author is using non-standard kanji to look cool and just slaps バベル as furigana on top.


I think they’re just two examples of a general category that might pop up anywhere. For instance, there’s this indie videogame called 天国の塔, and the current anime season has 神之塔. The true test is recognizing kanji when we meet them out in the world; WK is never going to cover all possible combinations.

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I don’t see this as a problem, you’ll learn to read kana faster anyway. Of course you’re gonna look at the kanji last in those examples since it’s the very last character. If a kanji came first, even if you can’t read it initially you’ll come back to it after reading the rest of the kana to try to figure it out again. And what’s considered effective for memorising vocab can be subjective…