Words only really found in novels

I started reading light novels recently (I’ve had the books for a while but I’m finally getting on them), and was sort of surprised by the number of words and kanji I didn’t know.

I can read manga and even stumble through anime and dramas without subtitles, but there seem to be a lot of words (usually scenery/staging words or variations on “to say”, it seems) which don’t really appear in other types of media.

Getting to the point - is there a resource which could help with this? Do I just need to get further into WaniKani?

As far as kanji go, yes, getting further into WK will definitely help with kanji recognition

There are other resources you can use too, there’s a fantastic supplemental material thread here that includes Anki decks that cover things like additional vocab to learn, additional kanji to learn that aren’t covered by WK, and kana-only vocab

If you’re curious whether a kanji is covered by WK, just search for it on the WK site. Or you can also look it up in jisho.org and if it’s in WK there will be a link to WK.

Honestly, reading is your best resource. It’s going to show you exactly which words you need to study. Any other source would just be approximating what you might encounter.

Light novels you say? I’m sure someone has made a 中二病専門用語 Anki deck.


Manga and anime are limited to conversational Japanese which makes up only a small fraction of the language. No ‘resource’ can really help you because there’s too many thousands of words that could be used. Additionally the ‘reading will be my SRS’ idea 100% doesn’t apply because, again, the pool of words is too big. There’s nothing to do but mark down the words you don’t know and add them to an SRS.

If you wanna get really technical about it then you could try the kanji koohi forum’s frequency analysis tool which will give you a list of words by frequency. It’s kind of pain in the arse to convert books to .txt but aside from this there aren’t really any one-size-fits-all kind of resources.

Edit: Wanikani will help with kanji if you’re using a physical book. Otherwise you can get an ebook version (recommended) and just copy and paste stuff you don’t know.

I was afraid that was going to be the case.
Thanks for your help though.

Think about it this way: Could you make such a list in English? Certainly, there are words that show up more in certain genres, but as a native English reader, you just figure it out as you go. Keep reading, keep SRSing, and eventually you’ll be able to manage more :slight_smile:

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The other difficulty with LNs specifically is that, due to the widespread nature of them currently, the difficulty and normality of the Japanese will differ per author. Spice and Wolf is a fairly easy read outside of the economic terms, as both grammar and vocabulary are standard fair. The more “chuunibyou” you go with plot, the more likely you are to encounter the infuriating authors that make up their own jukugo, readings for existing jukugo (usually to generate a nonsense English/German/Latin term in katakana that’s supposed to have the same meaning), and other ridiculousness that bogs down the reading process.

Definitely verse yourself of dialogue-based terms, because, obviously you’re going to find a lot of dialogue in normally character-driven Light Novels. For scenery descriptions, your best bet is to find a longer running series to pick up on the writer’s style and/or read stories of similar genres (most fantasy stories will probably share scenery vocabulary, while sci-fi stories probably won’t).

It’s a shame I never thought of tracking frequency of words I’ve put into my spreadsheets when translating. I may have to start. :open_mouth:

I don’t think they’re really particularly “hard” though. If you read stuff like real novels then you’ll get things that are hard. LNs just have a lot of overly involved descriptions and sometimes chapter 16.5

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Have you heard of houhou? It’s a dictionary and SRS all in one. You look up the words you don’t know when reading and then put the results into the SRS so you end up constantly reviewing things related to your reading interests.

I don’t think you have to always “wait on WK”. I’ve learned and reinforced quite a few extra kanji using houhou while casually purusing Japanese text or anime subtitles. I don’t know if and when 夢 appears on WK (as of writing I’m at level 19) but it’s one of those ones that’s easy to learn without mnemonics because it’s so striking and pretty common in anime…

Yup, agreed. “Annoying” is more the word I’d give Light Novels than difficult (there’s a reason I have yet to embark in translating real novels yet :rofl:). I giggled at the 16.5 reference.

Yume does appear at some point. I don’t recall when. I’d check but I’m on my phone right now…

You may find anything in there.
I recently stumbled across:


And those are just the one I can’t remember at the top of my head…
So, it’s not like you will find a one size-fits-all type of resource. Time to hit the monolingual Japanese dictionary.

Didn’t bother reading the comments before posting. I should have, since everything has been said already, and better.

I believe 夢 appears around level 20, since I’m currently at level 21, and I’m reviewing it now (along with vocabulary including 夢).

Thanks for the resource!

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No worries :+1:t3:

I imagined it would be coming fairly soon given that I now see it all the time in Japanese content. I can’t wait to be around level 40… With all the work I’m doing on WK, lingodeer and Anki I’m starting to understand all of the simple stuff in anime, it’s rather exciting.

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うかがう isn’t so uncommon, it’s just usually in kana from what I’ve seen.

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