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In Modern Standard Mandarin, the common word for the verb "to go" is 去, while in southwestern Mandarin, the same concept is expressed with 朅.

Has 朅 (qiè) ever been commonly used for 去 'to go' in the past or in other topolects?

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I think this Zhihu post might be of help.

To sum up:

  • Not just southwest, many topolects, including even the good old Beijing dialect, read 去 along the lines of qie or khe.
  • The OP's quoted text used the character 朅, probably to distinguish it from the standard mandarin qu, but in fact it is just 去 but with a different sound.
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  • It is interesting to note that Sichuanese 司马相如 did also employ this character in his prose 《汉书·司马相如传下》 悲世俗之迫隘兮, 朅輕舉而遠游。 – Mo. Sep 29 '16 at 7:26
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as far as i know, 朅 is rarely used in cantonese.

then, it's also seldom used in the past, only 2 appearances in 詩經: "庶士有朅", "伯兮朅兮"; about 14 times in before 漢 dynasty.

http://ctext.org/pre-qin-and-han/zh?searchu=朅

afterward, my casual checking is that, it's not a common character in literatures of yore.

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  • how about verbal usage? Hard to measure I suppose - pronunciation qie for go. – Mo. Aug 22 '16 at 3:41
  • verbally? in cantonese, i think no-one would say 朅, in the usage of 去. – 水巷孑蠻 Aug 22 '16 at 3:52
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I don't know where you see this character, but as I'm from Chengdu, Shichuan( in southwest), it probably just a character to show the pronunciation of "去"(we pronounce "去" as qiè).

It's a dialect thing. People of the ancient Shu country(古蜀国) used it and this passed down to the current Sichuan dialect. The usage can be traced back to the Warring States period.

And you can find some explanations in ancient books:

“按《楚辞》:‘东既驾兮朅而归,不得见兮心伤悲。’朅,去也”。

                            --杨慎《升庵全集》卷五十九《朅来》

朅,去也 just means 朅 = 去.

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