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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kanamemo: a tool for the apprentice weeaboo

Back in 2006, when I decided to learn Hiragana and Katakana, I looked around for flashcard programs to help me in my task. After finding that none of them actually worked as I thought that they SHOULD, I decided to roll my own. The result is Kanamemo:

It works by teaching you Hiragana and/or Katakana (at your choice) by "levels". Each level typically contains 5 different kana. It basically shows you a kana and asks you to enter its Hepburn roomaji transliteration. If you get it right, you get +1 point in it. If you get it wrong, you get -10 to it AND -10 to the one that you confused it with. Once all kana of a given level are at least at level 5 (or so, I don't remember the exact rules), you've learned them and it unlocks the next level.

It also never stops flashing old kana to you, but the probability of a given kana being picked is inversely proportional to how good you are at it - that way, it makes sure that you don't forget the ones that you learned earlier, while focusing on the ones that you struggle with.

I found that it works exceptionally well, and I could learn to read all of Hiragana and Katakana in 2 days, but if you're particularly diligent, you can probably do it in a day.

You can download a Win32 binary for it here. Please post a comment if you have any trouble with the runtimes (i.e. missing DLL errors, or "application hasn't been installed properly").

The source code for the program has been available at the Aegisub repository for a while. Here's a link.

I have been meaning to write a similar tool for kanji+words (by mining data from EDICT and KANJIDIC), but my sloth has been preventing me from doing so.

[EDIT] If you want to build it natively on Linux, see this.

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  1. Indeed, this is the best kana teaching software I have used so far.

  2. You've done a great thing! Thank you!

  3. very nice - I love it!

  4. It works under Wine, but only after installing VC2005 runtimes. Also, kanas are not visible due to font issues... at least under my Wine 1.0 (i also experience the same issues on other apps, like Perfect Dark).

    Pretty nice program...

  5. Many thanks! Seems very useful.

  6. Indeed this is a great learning tool. I've been trying to learn Hiragana for a while now and this program makes it a breeze.

  7. Nice program, but it could use a rewrite ;)

    I know you're not as lazy as you act. It seems more reasonable to think that your interests just lie elsewhere, and I can respect prioritizing other projects.

    Keep up the kickass work.

  8. Thank you! This has helped me a lot :)

  9. Hi, I also can't get the kana to display - it simply shows a hollow square where the kana should be. Is there something specific I need to install to fix this? I'm running WinXP. Thanks!

  10. Yes. Go to your Regional & Language Settings in the Control Panel, Languages tab, and enable support for East Asian languages. You will need your WinXP CD.

  11. its soooooooooo good

  12. Awesome stuff, Just came across it. Already improved my Katakana recognition. Any chances you might go for Kanji as well?

  13. Ran, try reading the next-to-last paragraph again :)
    Also search this blog for "Kanjimemo".

  14. Font doesn't have both Hiragana and Katakana ranges. Characters keep printing as Gulim.

  15. If anyone still cares (because searching for "Kanamemo" in Google leads to another thing these days): i've finished porting the whole thing to Java, so you can run it on almost every box that can run a (compatible) JVM...

    ... and that includes a J2ME version for cellphones!

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