Wanikani pronunciation of kanji

Hey guys I just started my WaniKani journey but i’m a little bit unsure of something that comes up from time to time. When learning the pronunciation of Kanji for example “River”. The hiragana spelling is “かわ” which from my understanding is pronounced ka-wa. In the mnemonic story they highlight the word “cow” and I just want to know is the highlighted word the way you meant to say the kanji as in “kaw” and not “kawa” or is it just used to make you remember the first part of the pronunciation. I want to make sure Im saying the kanji correctly now as opposed to trying to correct myself later.

Ka-wa is the correct pronunciation, and yes, usually highlighted words like ‘Cow’ are meant to help you remember a part of the reading but are not the complete reading itself!

The actual pronunciation is always given in hiragana, and there’s no ambiguity there.

The mnemonics just jog your memory and are in English.


Thanks for the responses, i think it stems more from the fact that I dont know all the pronunciation rules so Im not confident if how I saying it is right. Also I cant click on the sound icon so im not sure if thats meant to be for the first few lesson or its because im only using a free account for now.

This is a kanji lesson, right? Pink background, not purple? There are no sound recordings for kanji lessons, because the focus isn’t yet on teaching the words.

It just happens that for 川 they are teaching you the reading that is used for the word 川, but when you get to that vocab lesson it will have a recording attached.

1 Like

Ahk, yea its pink thanks for the clarification!

Yeah, the reading mnemonics (for both kanji and vocab) are only there to give you an idea of how to remember the pronunciation - they are not, by any means, intended as an actual pronunciation guide.

You may find, as you continue with WaniKani, that you are able to write better mnemonics, or at least mnemonics that work better for you, whether that means things that more accurately reflect the reading or something else. You can do so under the Reading Notes or Meaning Notes.

Many people have more success using their own mnemonics.

I’d recommend doing a few days of drilling hiragana and katakana before picking kanji back up. It’ll help a ton, it’ll give you a solid base for Japanese, and prevent you from accidentally learning a bunch of words doing something like pronouncing o like “ew” instead of “oh”.

Following the method here should get you confident with sight reading in just a few sessions of drilling https://www.tofugu.com/japanese/learn-hiragana/

1 Like

Hey yea I was doing that, but the articles don’t go into depth about long sounds for hiragana, more specifically “o” sounds being lengthened by the “u” hiragana and when “n” becomes “m”.

Hey welcome to the community - Just my 2 yen, but you shouldn’t necessarily think of it as N vs / becoming M. Yes it is technically closer to the western pronunciation of “N” BUT you really should start to think about it more in the way of when your tongue / mouth closes.

For example, if I say しん, It technically sounds like “SHIN”, but if I ad ぶん to it, it sounds more like SHIMBUN because you need to completely close your mouth to make that B sound but you should be making the same formation with your tongue for both ん’s

Try to think of ん as its own sound. When you pronounce it, the back your tongue should be curved towards the throat, NOT the tip of your tongue towards the roof of your mouth / teeth. This is the fundamental difference between the western N and the Japanese ん

To your first point - the great thing about japanese pronunciation is that all vowels and consonants are pronounced the same no matter what (with the exception of は being pronounced when it is the topic marker which i’m sure you already know).

Really try to pay attention to your mouth and get used to always pronouncing the O with that circular mouth shape you make when you say something like “TOW truck” and the U being a little more relaxed like when you say “FOOD”.

Good luck on your quest!!

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.