WaniKani: The Good, The Bad and the Snuggly

This is news. How do I substitute my own radical mnemonics and meanings for WK’s?

Actually, i have no objection to the puerile – I loved Austin Powers! – as long as it serves a purpose. I’d never go into my own personal mnemonics with my grandmother – but they help me remember. The problem arises when a meaning that is ultimately much more useful, because it is the actual original meaning and is bound to figure in the meanings of many and various kanji, is replaced by a meaning that may well be easily remembered, but is unhelpful in understanding and remembering kanji that it is part of.

One more item to file under the Good: It seems that this really is a
community – like a college where you study your kanji, then gather in the
caf to throw around complaints and ideas.

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Just find the item you want to add a synonym to and you should see an Add Synonym button. Anything you add as a synonym will be accepted as correct in your next review. For your own mnemonics, you can just put those in the notes. Unfortunately, you can’t add synonyms during lessons with “regular” WK but if you’d like to be able to, there’s a userscript for that.

I’ve just been writing the kanji on my own time, in a seperate kanji notebook. No need to code for something that isn’t necessary. Go buy yourself a notebook of any kind and just write down the kanji!


Re: puerility (is that even a word?), I also didn’t like it at first, but then I realized that my dislike of it made it more memorable. The whole point of the mnemonics is to evoke strong feelings and make the kanji more memorable in your mind. So I just embraced it, and now I’ve never forgotten “thread” to this day. Over time, the puerile association does fade, but the feeling remains and the memory sticks. It’s quite useful!


some of the sentences are normal and they’re fine by me. these kinds though:






as I said, there are so many kanji i haven’t met in those sentences that it’s just unreadable :confused: not even a grammar problem.

so for now, my approach is to just read the english translation to see how it’s used in a context, and ignore the japanese unless it’s not too hard. and then go to nhk easy.

oh well :confused:

Pretty sure she means that you can parse the sentences by that stage of your Japanese development, even if you have to look up the kanji. By knowing enough grammar, you won’t get bogged down in not recognizing when something is a verb or that two things are making a compound, etc.

Beginners get stopped by grammar, because they don’t know what they’re even supposed to be looking up in a dictionary.


I had to look up a lot somehow, kanji and vocab alike. But oh well, I’ll just do my reading elsewhere to slowly learn more vocab too ^^

That’s great news! Thanks so much!

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And another snuggly:
My minor objections notwithstanding, I think this really is a brilliant learning program. It reminds me of a “programmed textbook” for statistics that I encountered in a university course many years ago. So brilliantly put together and so easy to use that it made one wonder why everything wasn’t taught that way, which brings me to my suggestion: have you thought of broadening your focus, essentially franchising the program so that it can be used by others to teach anything that depends on learning a large number of facts: everything from biology to medicine to other languages?

There are a few SRS flashcard things out there. Anki, Quizlet, Memrise. WK basically just gates the content so you can’t rush and get overwhelmed as fast as with some of the other ones. And obviously they created the actual content.

To respond to the bad:

Why do you need to know the original meanings of the radicals? Sometimes it is useful, yes (and we’re changing some of the radicals back to their original meanings because we realized it was more helpful), but for many… it’s a burden when it comes to mnemonics and remembering their names. Radical names like “right open box,” “lines on a trigram,” basically any number, and radicals that look different but are named the same thing and just have a 2 on them like they’re a movie sequel… well, it’s just better to make something new up that will make a more memorable mnemonic for you.

Also, there’s like 40+ “radical like patterns” that we came across that aren’t officially radicals, and only exist on WaniKani. In those cases, too, it makes things easier to memorize because it cuts down on radicals you have to remember and use in a story. We really try to keep radicals down to three per kanji, sometimes four. The fewer, the better, the easier…

Also, it’s just not important information to know, so it doesn’t conflict with anything you’ll need to know in the future. Japanese people don’t even know the names of most of the radicals. This will be okay.

Oh, and coordinating WK with specific reading is def something I want to do - but, there’s a lot of things I want to do, so it’s a little low on the list :frowning:


It’s not that we’re never adding more sentences. It’s just not on our current list. :slight_smile:


I want to know the original meanings of the radicals because, on balance, I
find it more helpful. I find it more helpful because often, though, I
admit, not all the time, the radicals make sense mnemonically as one learns
and memorizes the kanji. To use the example I gave before, it is much more
likely that “thread” will be useful mnemonically than “poop”. If you
respond that “poop” is useful just because it is striking and therefore
memorable, I would say that to me, ideograms are like small poems,
representing abstract ideas with a combination of concrete images. It’s
true that they don’t always make sense, but they often do, and I’d like to
be able to access, understand and remember them on that level as often as

Here’s a fun idea. Google it.

I’ll even make it easy - https://kanjialive.com/214-traditional-kanji-radicals/
List of kanji radicals by stroke count - Wikipedia

Sorry if I came across as rude, but seriously, it’s not a big deal.

In my three seconds of googling, I’m getting this - in Japanese, these radicals don’t have names.


I googled it quite some time ago. That’s how I know some of the traditional
meanings. My objection was to learning unnecessary “new” meanings when the
traditional ones not only work, but are more functional when it comes to
their role in understanding and remembering ideograms, because they so
often have an understandable role in creating their meaning.
The negative tone in so many of these responses has me a bit puzzled. As
far as I’m concerned the issue was settled when someone (Ryouki?) pointed
out that I could substitute my own synonyms for the given meanings of
radicals. Problem solved, with thanks.

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I think most of us, or at least me, see the way you’re responding as sort of an unfounded complaint? (Hmmmm… that’s not right. Curse you, English.)

But whatever works for you works for you. If you learned the old traditional meanings first, use those. For the most part, these work for me. Le shrug

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If you’re counting me as negative, shrug I guess… I just pointed out that the actual thread radical is not the poop radical, so you can’t call them both thread in this system if you want people to be able to distinguish.

We hear someone complain about WK not using the “real” names for radicals 5 times a week, even though there are no official names.

I think it was you, Leebo, who also pointed out that the top part of the
thread radical, which was here called poop, was also called “small”.
“Small” works for me too, especially combined with the lines below to make
the full “thread” radical or kanji. Thread is small, indeed. Poop, of
course, makes no sense at all here, so you’re still making my case that
traditional radical meanings are generally more useful in understanding and
remembering kanji. Finally, I’m not complaining. Wanikani asked for
feedback and I gave it, both positive and negative. As I said earlier, to
me this problem was solved when someone pointed out that it was possible to
substitute one’s own synonyms for the WK radical meaning.