WK teaching wrong meanings?

I’m on Level 4. My wife is Japanese. We talk about things I am learning. Recently I said “Yeah, 台 / だい means ‘machine’ right?”

And she said “No it means raised area or platform, that type of thing. It’s only used for machines if you are counting them.”

Clearly, WK says this means machine, point blank… Not a word solely for COUNTING machines (even though I guess all the examples have numbers before it, it seems like it should explicitly say this kanji is “used ONLY when counting machines” and not just “machine”)… and if the much more common use is platform, why is it not teaching that?

Next, WK tells me that 生 is “fresh” but wife says no, it’s only for raw stuff (particularly fish)… So you can’t say something like “生枝豆”.

Now I’m questioning the utility of what I’m learning from WK… Or do these nuances get cleared up in later levels?


That’s a fair point. Especially in the early levels, WK should be a bit more precise about the meaning. Perhaps we can tag @anon20839864 here; or if you want, you can also send them an email at hello@wanikani.com

it doesn’t matter. wk doesn’t teach you all there is about the kanji, else your progress would slow down to a crawl. it teaches you select pieces, from where you can then continue your journey much easier.
生 = fresh is not wrong (think 生クリーム). it’s just only part of what it encompasses. of course it also means raw. it also means life, birth, growth among other things.

you can’t look at kanji with a simple mindset.


I would check the examples phrases to get a better idea of what exactly it means.

For example, fresh beer!


Yes, 生 can indeed mean “fresh” and not only “raw”. For example, I just had 生酒 (なまざけ) yesterday and it was delicious!


WK teaches a meaning for each kanji. And it never implies that that meaning is universal (applicable in every possible usage of the English gloss). But maybe it should emphasize that to beginners.


I get what you all are saying, I’ve seen 生 on beer cans. And I know kanji don’t just have one meaning, and we can’t learn them all, I’m just concerned that I’m being told by a native speaker that at least in these two instances what I’ve learned is, at best, somewhat misleading (especially when compared to common usages). In my mind, WK is leading me to believe that 生 is straight up “fresh” when it seems more correct that it’s “raw”. Like you can’t use 生 to say “fresh beans” (I think she said that’s 旬 / しゅん but I’m not totally sure, I will clarify with her tomorrow).

That’s a general problem with translations. You can almost never translate one word to another language and get a 1 to 1 exact translation.


Isn’t the problem with 生 that it can be used in a gazillion different ways?


On the whole, WaniKani is a kanji resource, and I think they went with most common meanings/readings to expedite the kanji-learning process, rather than provide exhaustive listings of each meaning for every item.

WK is also not perfect as a primary vocab source. It has been brought up repeatedly that WK teaches some words that has Japanese people remarking how that word is never used in Japan. That’s because they use vocab that utilizes the kanji that you were taught, to cement the different possible readings.

That’s my understanding, at least. And I agree with you and the others that some of these nuances and caveats should perhaps be spelled out a bit more clearly in the beginning.

Good luck on your WK journey!

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Yeah, WK’s primary goal is to help you read the words when you encounter them in written language. It doesn’t go into enough detail to help you use them.


I’m just one person, but the machine-counter thing came across fine to me. I haven’t heard or used that word yet outside of WK, so it is at least possible to interpret it the right way with the information given. Or my brain’s just weird? :sweat_smile:

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Because the common usage of that word is as a counter word for machines. (not platform)

as others have mentioned the goal of WK is to:

  1. teach you about 2000 kanji
  2. teach you a set of 6000 vocab words that illustrate the various pronunciations and spelling that use the kanji (not the most common vocab for any given concept)

this is useful because memorizing the kanji is a huge barrier to entry for functioning in a japanese language environment.
There are many more things that you need to know, though.

These nuances get cleared up to the extent that you do the addional work needed to progress in your learning of japanese. (again, i cannot overstate this, the goal of WK is not to teach you japanese in some holistic sense).

So to your specific example, the counter words are marked as counter words in the description. And the examples are all usages as counter words (two machines, and later on with different words, 3 sheets of paper, etc)
But generally, you are going to have to learn how japanese works at a grammatical level from another resource. (a good place to start is something as simple as the wikipedia page on japanese grammar which gives a nice overview of the main points of japanese grammar including counter words)


Don’t worry. No harm will be done if you learn them that way… I promise :wink:
There’ll be tons of similar kanjis along the way. Vocab will help to provide the subtleties of the actual meanings. 生 is like suuuuuper common kanji, so you will quickly fine tune the meaning. 台 will be found in machines (with wheels) and stands. I knew the word 屋台 before hand and the kanji made perfect sense picturing that.
Here… a 屋台 :hugs:

Anyway, don’t worry, vocab will be the key to fix those meanings. So you can be safe learning in WK’s way :+1:

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WK teaching wrong meanings?

I just went through your examples and didn’t find any wrong doing on WK’s side. No offense but it looks more like you didn’t pay enough attention to the information they present to you.

And she said “No it means raised area or platform, that type of thing. It’s only used for machines if you are counting them.” Clearly, WK says this means machine, point blank… Not a word solely for COUNTING machines

You sure about that?

Let’s see, you have the radical “machine” (radicals are only used for mnemonics), you have the Kanji for “machine” which clearly says “this is the machine counter kanji that you’re learning.”, then you have a bunch of Kanji’s that use the 台 Kanji but don’t have much/anything to do with machines, then you have the counter words where you count machines, like 一台, 二台 etc, which are clearly counters (again, WK said as much when you learned the Kanji) and lastly, there’s 〜台. WK says “This counter is used with some kind of machine” and “Be sure to omit the 〜 in your answer as it is only a placeholder for a number.”.

WK: Alternative Meanings: Big Device, Machine, Device, Machine Counter, Number Of Machines

That’s the only part where your confusion could come from IMO, but you’d still have to ignore all the times WK told you it’s a counter and where they literally counted machines.

Next, WK tells me that 生 is “fresh” but wife says no, it’s only for raw stuff (particularly fish)… So you can’t say something like “生枝豆”.

There’s nothing wrong here either. It means both “fresh” and “raw”. Like others have already mentioned, you can’t blindly use the words in every situation, you still have to understand their nuances and when to use them.

You should take a look at a Japanese dictionary, they all show you what WK is showing you (and more).

Anyways, I’m sure you’ll get through these confusions with time, Japanese isn’t known to be an easy language after all. :stuck_out_tongue:


If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Japanese, it’s that you should never listen to Native speakers (who are not teachers) about the utility of anything you’re learning. They have no idea.

It’s not their fault. If someone asked you certain things about English, you’d say useless, wrong things as well. We all take our language for granted.

Just wait until she tells you 友人 is never used and you shouldn’t learn it…


Was going to say! I never had this issue with either examples OP mentioned and 生 is definitely down as both fresh and raw.


If a Japanese person ever told me that I’d really start questioning them. I’ve seen/heard 友人 more times than I can count at this point. Sure 友達 is definitely much more common, but saying that 友人 is never used is absolutely absurd.

QuackingShoe is just making the point that some natives fail to distinguish between different contexts when discussing this stuff, and it’s magnified when they don’t understand that a word you learned came from a site dedicated for reading, not speaking or anything else.

So it’s actually pretty normal for a Japanese person to say “we never use x” when what they really mean is “that is not a common word in spoken Japanese.” And they may also not even realize that they’re expressing their own personal usage habits as if they’re facts about the Japanese language.

This tends to happen often when people see your WK screen over your shoulder or something. They just assume you are studying general vocab, not focused on reading kanji.


Yeah. I was obliquely referencing an old thread here that I happened to read, and “why would yiu learn 友人 when 友達 exists” is something that has stuck with me as hilariously misguided (but understandable, see Leebo) because of the three shows I was watching at the time, I had heard 友人 used in all three.

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