Why 交番 perfectly makes sense

Wanikani Meaning Explanation
I have no idea how this one works, admittedly. You mix a number in a series and you get a police box. A police box? Who would want to work in one of those? Think of it this way: all the police have to draw numbers from a hat (they’re all mixed up in there). Those who pull out the wrong numbers are on police box duty. That’s why mixed numbers in a series = police box. Do you see it?

But remember
that 番 also means “turn”? So where are people taking turns? Watching something 24 hours! Also see 門番. So you see: The Polizeiwache is a place where you can meet people who are watching night and day by taking turns. Perfectly rational.
BTW I got the hint from a Japanese friend after complaining about this “nonsense” word.


Yeah, WaniKani didn’t even try to look for a reason for this, even though that’d help with a mnemonic. It comes from standing watch (立番) in rotation (交替).


Why Furigana makes perfect sense!

振る is “to shake.” 仮名 is kana. This word refers to furigana, which is the little kana that’s put next to kanji for the people who don’t use WaniKani and can’t read anything. As to why it’s called “shake kana”? I have no clue. Just imagine putting little kana next to kanji and watching them shake around, though, and you should be good to go.

振 also appears in vibration. So if you vibrate (or shake) air you get sound. So furigana are giving the sounds for a kanji. Blatantly obvious, isn’t it? :slight_smile:


Ugh examples like this is precisely why I usually ignore the mnemonic and if I’m having difficulty try and find the etymology of the word.


Though I believe it’s actually based on the meaning as ‘assign.’ But, yes, that can be a clever mnemonic device.

Yeah, sometimes Koichi could have put in a little more effort into looking up the etymologies of these words. That way people get less confused thinking these are essentially nonsense words thrown together haphazardly from kanji. 交番 being a good example until it was fixed recently. Thankfully it now gives it some proper context:

Meaning Explanation

This word is a little tricky — at first, the combination of mix and number in a series doesn’t seem to add up to police box, but there’s a catch. This word is actually an abbreviated combo of two other words: The 交 comes from「交替」(in rotation) and the 番 comes from「立番」(standing watch).

A police box is basically a tiny community police station staffed by one or two officers. It’s something that is not common in many Western countries, but it is pretty much all over Japan.


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