Wanikani in other languages


Hi guys,

Just wondering if there is any plans to translate WaniKani into different languages. I bet many of us subscribers would be more than happy to assist in translating the page so it can reach people that do not speak English but is very keen to learn Japanese.

Most of the times during the study, I imagine a mnemonic and a story in my native language as well and I can definitely see this working :slight_smile:

Has something like this been discussed before?



I was thinking that WaniKani should be made so that you can learn other languages besides Japanese, because the layout of WaniKani is great! The vocab aspect of WaniKani could really accommodate any language.

Hypothetically, Languages like Chinese and Ancient Egyptian would work really well with it.


I think that Duolinguo is very good at other languages already. But WaniKani could definitely reach out to the people who doesnt speak English.


I thought about it as well… actually, I’ve already translated some mnemonics to Spanish. My boyfriend is also learning Japanese but he’s not so good with English so I have to help him a bit when doing WaniKani.


Ves? En latino america hay un monton de gente que habla solo Portugues o Espanol y estoy seguro de podriamos hacer mnemonics con la cultura local, musicas, livros, frases de la tele, etc…

Voy a enviar un mail a la gente de Wani y ver que onda :slight_smile:


This would be awesome. I vote for Korean - many Koreans study Japanese, for both historical and linguistic (similar grammar) reasons, but anecdotally the kanji are a big stumbling block since hanja usage continues to decline.

Anyone know what the most common native languages are for Japanese learners?


There might be a market for Thai people.


For some reason, I’ve seen a lot of Japanese study materials for Thai people.


There is also a huge market in Brazil since the largest number of Japanese colonies outside Japan is in Brazil. Obviously all the big languages:

Spanish, French, German, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese…

I am sure us, the subscribers, can contribute a lot with this!
Perhaps even in forum topics titled “Korean Translation” for example and then “Leve 1 translation”, “Level 1 mnemonics”, etc…


YAMAHODO ARIMASU is all I can say, but Thai people still find kanji hard. There’s a lot of Japanese company in Thailand.


Sí, sería muy interesante. Cuéntame a ver qué dicen! :grinning:


Los mneumonics funcionarian muy bien para Japones ya que las palabras se parecen tanto a espanol. Lo que pienso hacer es un sitio parecido a Wanikani pero hecho por y para la comunidad. Entonces los mneumonics los harian los usuarios, parecido a lo que hace memrise. Asi uno podria escoger el idioma que quieras y ver los mneumonics que han hecho los paisanos suyos.


FYI: There was this thread two years ago about this topic already, it didn’t last very long though, maybe because of what @AndreLuiz said here.

I’d like to see WaniKani in German, too, but to be honest I think the work that would be required for this to happen is more than one might think. Personally I would only contribute if at least the data used on WaniKani (meaning: explanations, mnemonics and hints) would be shared with a public license (e.g. CC BY-SA) by the WaniKani team so we can do our work openly and without the risk of it being gone for nothing.


Right, @AndreLuiz mentioned that in a open website he wouldn’t mind doing it but it is not fair to ask for help in a paid website.

They aren’t asking, are they? What if people volunteered to do that? The community could contribute, on its own pace, to translations and mnemonics that can be up or down voted by everyone else. I don’t really understand the mechanisms behind the website but if it is doable, I would be glad to assist. :slight_smile:

Or is this utopia?


So, this is the official reply from Koichi to my e-mail:

Thank you for your offer - the thing about translating mnemonics is that… well, it’s not a translation, it’s completely 100% new content. The mnemonics are based on puns of the English language, and we would have to write new mnemonics if we want to do another language. At some point in the future I want to open things up a bit and allow for community mnemonics, and at that point we may hire some people to work on other language mnemonics, or let the community help out. But, right now it’s a little too big of a task, even if someone else were to do it (there’s a lot involved in administering this kind of thing as well! Plus, we’re rewriting a lot of the mnemonics in Enlglish at the moment too.)

Any thoughts?


I think what he’s saying is, even if the community were to do all that work for free (and it is a lot of work) then he and the rest of the WaniKani team would have to do a lot of heavy lifting to revise and incorporate the new language - possibly even make a whole new site. At the moment, they seem to be just too busy for that, and I suppose there’s no evidence that that work will pay off. As in, do we know for sure people will pay a monthly subscription to access WaniKani in Spanish?

And sure, we all know someone who would, like, totally do it, man! But that’s anecdotal and can’t really be used to make decisions like that.

If you’re itching to do something like this, I think there’s other places to get started IMO. Build anki decks, maybe, in the languages you want to?

I have to say I’m on @AndreLuiz on this one. I’m a professional translator - I’d happily pitch in a open/community website (and if WaniKani opens community mnemonics I’ll be there working along), but if my work is somehow going to be monetized then I feel it’s only fair I get some payment too.

That said, why, hello @koichi! If you ever need a Spanish translator, I’m thirsty as hell and can send my CV :smirk:


Let’s also not forget that widening your English vocabulary is a nice side-effect of WaniKani as it is today – which is useful for nearly everybody nowadays. So one could also see the lack of support for other languages as a feature – at least for me it is, I learn a dozen useful English words each month.

Maybe this “feature” could even be elaborated in a way that would make looking up unknown English words in mnemonics by hand obsolete? I mean, I could of course install a plugin in my browser to do a simple one-click translation, but I would need to do this over and over again when I see the word. What I mean is something within the system of WaniKani itself: Once I marked a word as “unknown” (right in place of a review/lesson) I would expect to see the translation in my native language in braces right behind the English text (everywhere it appears, even on other vocab/kanji) – until I decide to “hide” it.

For example, for the Vocab 辺り (:us: area) I get the following meaning explanation:

This is the noun version of the kanji for area. This makes it have the same meaning as the kanji: area or vicinity.

With an non-native English speaker support it might look like this after I marked “vicinity” as unknown:

This is the noun version of the kanji for area. This makes it have the same meaning as the kanji: area or vicinity (:de: Nähe | :white_check_mark:).

Wouldn’t this solve the main problem in a much quicker way?



I suggested little flags under the “Meaning” and “Mnemonics” where you could click and the translation/local mnemonic would appear in that language. The community could give each specific language input by Topics and the members itself would vote on the best one.

Anyway, do not think this is happening anytime soon unfortunately. Until there, non-English speakers won’t be able to taste the awesomeness of WaniKani :frowning:


What you are suggesting sounds to me like a variation of this user script where one would additionally filter the community mnemonics by your native language, so you could reach what you want by improving the existing extension a little bit.

This will only work though, if you provide a loooot of data (both suggestions and ratings) so it would take quite a lot of time and work until this gets really useful. You basically walk into the Chicken or the Egg Causality Dilemma – I don’t think this is going to work out well.

My suggestion on the other hand is a pure technical implementation with the integration of an existing third-party translation service (there are many!) and no need to add any new content. It is merely a user-based unknown words dictionary with the option to hide it. That’s it – from my experience this could be implemented by two people (a designer and a programmer) within about a month. As こういち already said the alternative would take too much effort.


So the issue with translation, is that it’s not actually a translation. Mnemonics are based off of puns of the English language - not something you can really “translate.”

That means we’d have to write 100% new mnemonics for everything. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it’s certainly a much bigger project compared to a translation (which is also a big project).

Couple this with the fact we are still rewriting a lot of the mnemonics in English, and that takes a lot of time as well.

Now, there are some solutions on the horizon I see coming (a long ways off, mind you!)

  1. At some point, when mnemonic rewrites settle down, it is possible we’ll think about writing the mnemonics for another language, find the right person, and set them off writing. Of course, this requires us to consider markets. English speakers learning Japanese is probably (by far) the largest willing-to-pay-for-something market of people out there. I’m not sure if any other group is even close (note: I didn’t actually do any research on this, though).

  2. At some point I also want to open things up for public mnemonics. It won’t be any time soon, so please don’t get your underwear in a bunch about it, but I hope we’d set it up so that you could tag your (public) mnemonic with a language, and perhaps there’d be an easy way for another language speaker to switch to mnemonics of that language as a default. This way the community could work on it if they wanted. And/or we can hire people to write pseudo-official public mnemonics in other languages without the pressure of it being perfect and official (and it could roll out slowly, as it was getting done).

The second option seems a lot more feasible to me, but once again, not happening anytime soon.