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I'm reading a Chinese manga translation and have come across this note above a panel: 嘰咿—

I'm not sure what it could mean or say in English. Can anyone help me? Thanks!

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If you can provide a scan or a photo of the panel(s) that would be even better –  congusbongus Nov 11 '13 at 1:32

1 Answer 1

That looks like onomatopoeia (象声词) so it means exactly what it sounds like: jiyi. In this case though, the 咿 (yi) and the dash (—) are meant to extend the "i" sound, so it's just "jiiiii--" altogether.

嘰/叽 is usually used for small birds chirping, as in the second definition:

 2. 象聲詞:小鳥~~叫。

If you look at this list of Chinese onomatopoeia, you may notice that a lot of the characters have the mouth radical (口). When you see a single character or multiple characters all with that radical, especially in a manga, it's very likely that it's an onomatopoeia.

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+1. And I think the case 嘰咿 here describes the sound of rubbing -- like opening a wooden door, some drawer that is not easy to slide, etc. –  Stan Nov 11 '13 at 0:58

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