Why is the radical for writing doll?

no where else do i see it as doll

You’ll find that WaniKani uses a lot of “custom” radicals. This is because, as you’ll see in a few levels, WaniKani doesn’t use “radicals” in the sense of the 部首 you see on other sites, but instead as kanji components. It happens that many of these components are traditional radicals, and sometimes WaniKani will use the traditional meaning as well.

WaniKani is built upon its mnemonic system, so it creates meanings for its “radicals” that work well in mnemonics. Obviously, it “writing” as a noun is much less flexible to put into a mnemonic than “doll,” and someone in Tofugu apparently has seen dolls with disproportionately tiny heads before (I usually see the opposite).

If it bothers or or is difficult to remember, you can visit the radical’s page outside of lessons or during reviews (although only after you get it right/wrong!) and select Add Synonym to create a word that works for you.

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The word “radical” has multiple uses. WK is not referring to the radicals that you might see on Wikipedia’s list of Kangxi radicals, etc. These are parts of kanji, not just the referential element that allows you to look it up in a kanji dictionary, and they’re used for mnemonics.

As such, they can do whatever they want to make the mnemonics they want to make.

It is actually a dowsing rod for detecting boob graves, but that is too hard to remember as a mnemonic.


Because Koichi finds this Kanji aDOLLable

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I mean, the radical for 本 looks like a girl in a dress to me, which doesn’t match the mnemonic at all, but you know. What can you do?
Some mnemonics are weirder or more far-fetched than others, but as long as they get the job done, they’re okay.

That said, 文 does have its roots in human shapes. Take a look at Chinese Etymology 字源

“Primitive pictograph 文. Believed to be a man in clothing, orginally with a heart. Meaning culture.”

So not too far off. But yes, WaniKani uses whatever names it wants for its Kanji parts if it helps you remember them. If that doesn’t work, you may want to give them your own names.


I think what @nathan9991 means is that they might as well have called the radical “writing”. I do get confused sometimes when the kanji and the radical have different name, but in these cases I just put the name of the kanji as a synonym for the radical.

Because they liked doll as a mnemonic tool more than writing apparently.

But I do think he was actually asking “Why are you calling it something no one else ever calls it” and not merely why did you choose to call it something different from the kanji meaning that you teach. Because if WK called the radical “sentence” or “art” then it would still be different from “writing” but it wouldn’t be called something no one else calls it ever.

In that case I hope he’s prepared for “raptor cage” and its friends.


Yes, raptor cage is a strange one. Never saw a cage in that one. But it does the job of remembering the thing!

Good damn raptor cage. It made so little sense that I no matter how long since I last saw it, I just cannot forget. Even now it’s been a long time - still stuck.

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