Wish: decompose radicals like 寺

I noticed there are some radicals given that are not decomposed.

An example would be something I just learned: temple 寺. Wanikani basically suggests to remember it as a picture:

looks kind of like a temple on a hill

Here took me all of the ten seconds to decide that this can be decomposed it as 土 + 寸 and later I noticed we can remember Kun’yomi as well:

I needed to measure the dirt to build a temple here, now I am all dirty from this terra (てら) incognita.

Kanshudo incidentally uses the same decomposition.

I think I will remember the radical better when I know how to decompose it. It feels like the logical path here is to give the decomposed kanji first and later add it as a radical.

What do you think?


In general, do what works for you.

Wanikani’s intent, though, is to build things systematically from smaller to larger blocks.
When you’re working with relatively simple kanji, it works well to use the simplest radicals. But for complex kanji, you’ll appreciate not having to remember 15 radicals.


Radicals wil get larger and larger the more you progress. Sometimes they will build radicals from radicals, and sometimes not. I think you might be right though, it would have been better if they mentioned that the temple radical is composed of two others

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At times I wish that rather than “building” new radicals (at least they name them after the matching kanji now thank christ) they would just mix radicals and kanji as building blocks for new kanji, rather than giving us a “new” radical that is identical to a kanji we learned 10+ levels ago. I know why they do it (too few radicals per level and you end up being able to complete a level after the first wave of kanji which might lead to an overwhelming workload for people who have difficulties allocating new content to themselves in reasonable quantities, similar to the “fast levels” that happen in late WK) but it can be annoying.

For example one of my recent kanji, 誘、is given iirc as the radicals say, grain and steps? I don’t remember, because I invented a mnemonic using “say” and “excel” (秀) which may well become a radical later, I don’t know. I’ve been making mnemonics myself for a long time now but I know a lot of people use the ones provided by WK and this must be annoying for those users. Maybe not, I can’t speak for anyone else. For me it’s more annoying having radicals clogging up my review queue that are just copies of a kanji which could be used for the same purpose. It seems like less of a logical learning decision and more of an ease of implementation thing.

EDIT: I looked it up and apparently “mete” is supposed to be used for dispensing, say, justice, punishment etc where I’ve been using it for years to just mean dispensing, allocating, whatever. You learn something new everyday huh.

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I interpreted this as that the mnemonics should be based on the radicals that build up the new radical, rather than saying that something kind of looks like a boot somehow. Not sure if this was what OP meant.

誘 is another good example of what I consider a problematic mnemonic:

You say to some grain and some stairs: I want to invite you to my place.

The mnemonic doesn’t really need the grain and the stairs; those could be some random objects. So this is kind an opposite problem compared to my original example: three radicals here is too much and they are too random.

Your suggestion of say + excel would make more sense, e.g.

Everyone says you excel at everything, so I want to invite you and only you (ゆう) to work in our company.

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There is a very good example of 誘 = 言 + 秀 just discussed. By the way this is also how kanshudo does it in this case as well (I had no idea in advance.)

As the kanji become more compex, it’s fine to use more complex parts to build them; there is no need to break a complex kanji into 15 components, but it also makes no sense to think about it as an unbreakable entity.

Oh boy, rather. Fortunately they’ve changed it now, but the old mnemonic for the “cottage” radical (I think) was something like “there’s a hat, and a mouth, and dirt… and together they form a cottage”. It’s like, “yes, I can see that, but how on Earth is that a memory aid?”

Possibly it wasn’t that particular radical, but the mnemonic was certainly along those lines.

Yep, that’s close to exactly what my mnemonic is word for word and it took me about 5 seconds to invent. It pretty much writes itself.

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