Wanikani is just not useful enough, but could be


Poor Koichi, I hope he isnt taking this topic home with him. I just want to say Im so glad that Koichi doesn’t take changes to this product lightly and really thinks about the consequences of potentially doing so. Its so easy to barge in here with a list of demands without considering how it affects other stuff.

WaniKani has been perfect for me. I came as a beginner with some Japanese and kanji knowledge and I knew a lot of stuff from the free levels but I was happy to go over them again because this method is so reinforcing even for stuff I already knew.

Im pretty thrilled when wanikani presents me a vocab or kanji i already ‘know’ because I know after this Im going to really know it!

The only thing Id really ask for on wanikani is more stuff because im a bit apprehensive about having to learn without it :frowning:


Hey, thank you man, for saying what I’ve been thinking for the past 6 months in Japan. I’m not dropping WaniKani, since I don’t particularly mind the annual cost, but I’ve definitely put advancement here on the back burner compared to more useful SRS and grammar study.

It’s funny you mention 里心 specifically with your ex-girlfriend story. I had a very similar situation with the exact same vocab word, although she told me it was a “difficult one” that she doesn’t really remember very well. I had a similar experience with 大作. At first I felt a little stoked at “knowing more” than a native speaker… before I realized how useless that would be.


I’m gonna play devil’s advocate for a moment since I personally believe that part of the strength and beauty of WK is that it doesn’t claim to be a one stop shop.

It’s a terrible idea, and I hope no one will attempt to do it, but - isn’t it possible to solve the advanced newcomers problem with just one button? Isn’t it possible to create an API like the ignore button that would simply let you skip? That way it’s completely up to the user. You don’t even need to fill in a single kana.

As I said - terrible idea.

One of the things that makes the approach of WK unique is the understanding of the need to protect the users so they’ll be able to focus and achieve their goal on this site.
The fact that users have realized that they’ve abused the ignore button and had to reset, says a lot about how delicate the balance of gamification is when it comes to learning.
Showering beginners with too many options they don’t need will simply discourage them.
It’s hard as it is when you start not to gravitate towards “I gotta do this as fast as possible” instead of “I need to slow down, it’s new and it takes time”.

For mii WK is pretty much this:
Koichi has invited mii to to watch a play in my mind where he is the writer and the kanas are the characters, there’s a structure. When people say - I know half of the characters already I don’t care about the story, those intermissions are wasting my time, but hey it’s a cool way to learn the other half, they miss the whole point.
It’s Twilight princess not breath of the wild.


Every native speaker with more than one finger per hand can count one and one together for that one. It helps to reinforce both the meaning and the readings of the kanji in it.


Really? A word that is best described in the Latin “magnum opus”, because it doesn’t have a close enough English translation is as simple as putting one and one together? It could also mean a large pile of sh1t, if we’re talking about “big makes”.


Yes. And on top of that it helps you review the kanji readings.


A word that can be read correctly and the meaning at least guessed by a second grader in elementary school won’t impress anyone. Magnum opus just means big work as well. If you know words like 作品 it basically means what you expect.


I don’t think I’ve ever found a "pass a test to skip content ‘you already’ know system that was ever actually competent. Why? Such tests would simply be summaries of the content, meaning you’ll have significant gaps in your knowledge. I successfully tested out of more than 10 classes in college, and my friends had homework with stuff I’ve never seen in my life from those classes.

WaniKani is designed with a particular system in mind, specifically utilizing its custom radicals and mnemonics to create its SRS system’s scaffolding. Even if you used a 90% kanji test system, you would be sacrificing the vocabulary, meaning you’ll get in trouble later on with alternate readings you SHOULD have learned early on. あ is the reading you learn for 合, but by level 25, you see ごう most commonly.

As for the comments about natives saying such and such word is useless, that’s just silliness. I’m sure most native English speakers would tell you knowing the original meaning of gay is useless due to its almost exclusive use for homosexuality, but if you don’t learn that meaning, you’ll think that everyone dresses up like homosexuals if you listen to Deck the Halls (don we now our gay apparel).

Honestly, if you have any need for a kanji learning site, you don’t know enough Japanese to claim what is actually useful or not useful. I’ve been told 語る is never used, and I honestly don’t think I’ve heard it used alone, but unless you want to go around pronouncing 物語 as ぶつご or ものご, be my guest. :stuck_out_tongue:

As a side note to the “worthlessness” of certain words, I had a middle school student write bread as 麺麭 on the blackboard. :neutral_face: In another class, I found out that 小麦 can also be used as 当て字 for パン. :thinking:


Isn’t 当て字 the other way around? I mean, when the kanji are just used phonetically, ignoring the meanings?

Question about the kun'yomi reading of 上

It’s considered a subcategory of ateji, with semantic emphasis rather than phonetic. The name is 熟字訓.


I thought it would be 熟字訓 as well, but my JTE definitely said 当て字. She mentioned it in a quick comment during class, so I didn’t get a chance to ask. I’m thinking she probably just said used it knowing I knew the term to explain that it’s a weird reading.


She probably called it that because of what Leebo said, then. Maybe because 当て字 might be a more known term than 熟字訓.


It is 当て字 and it is 熟字訓. So, unless the teacher is confused and said “no it’s not 熟字訓 it’s only 当て字” then there’s no contradiction in saying that it’s 当て字.


Ah, didn’t realize 当て字 was an umbrella term. :hushed: The reference book in which I first discovered 熟字訓 defined 当て字 and 熟字訓 as direct opposites of one another. 当て字 was defined exclusively as kanji used strictly for reading with no regard to meaning and 熟字訓 was defined exclusively as kanji used strictly for meaning with no regard for reading. Good to know!

Also, curse the slow post update speed! :rofl:


It might just be a case of sometimes 当て字 only refers to phonetic character usage and sometimes it refers to the umbrella term.

It’s like how 熟語 can be a compound word of any kind, or it can be something that is compound AND idiomatic. The former definition is more of a linguistics-specific term though, I believe, that isn’t encountered much, so people expect the idiom meaning when you use it in conversation it seems.


Just as a reference for how “never” “never used” words are actually used, I heard 語る in the wild just last week. I remember noting it because it’s so rare, but definitely not so rare as to be a case of “never.”

Just to reiterate again, Wanikani is not structured around the practicality of its vocabulary, so it shouldn’t be your only source for that, but it’s not like most of its words are some kind of dead variation of Japanese you’d have to dust off hundred-year-old diaries to find. Even its lesser used ones can still be heard in conversation from time to time, and if you want to be a high-register speaker (or especially reader) at any point, you have to know them anyway.

And, as you noted, 語る is also a basis for compounds, which is likely the reason for its inclusion on the site.


Where I lived in America, there’s a ramen shop run by a Japanese guy called 夢を語れ. So, 語る was a word I learned pretty early on in my Japanese studies.


Where I lived in America, there’s a ramen shop run by a Japanese guy called 夢を語れ. So, 語る was a word I learned pretty early on in my Japanese studies.

“Speak of Dreams”? That’s a pretty romantic name for a ramen shop. I like it.


I think “Tell your dream” was what he said he was going for, but yeah, he said since it was his dream he wanted other people to think of their dreams when they came.


Thanks for the evidence of usage! The explanation I heard for its lack of use was that it had a very prideful, self-elevating connotation, so I figured it was used somewhere, albeit rarely.

As someone who is using WaniKani primary for the 音読み coverage, I personally love all of the vocabulary, since it is designed to reinforce those rarer 音読み.

@Leebo That’s an awesome name. Ramen shops will always be my favorite food joints. :smiley: