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I hear them a lot in conversational Chinese, but I can't pick out the difference in meaning.

What does “小径” mean used in the sentence below ? Why is it used?

从这条小径走过去。

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  • 小径 is a literary version of 小道 or 小路. 小道 and 小路 are probably the same thing.
    – dan
    May 1 at 10:27
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小路 is a narrow alley or footpath off the main streets. It is usually located in a congested urban area. (崎嶇小路)

小道 and 小径 both are narrow pathways in the wild. 小径 was the product of people's foot traffics in an undeveloped area. At the ancient time in the grassy wild, people had to follow and walk over the footprints left by the people before him to maintain direction to the destination. Or, in a remote rural area, a 小径 was formed by farmers walking through it daily from home to the farmland, and to the adjacent neighbors, stores, etc. 小径 is usually not wide enough for mobile traffic. (羊腸小径)

小道 can be a widened 小径 between villages in the rural areas, or a pathway constructed purposely for the commercial and military uses. For the latter, it was usually located in the wooded mountain terrain, and/or along the edge of rough/rugged maintains adjacent to the cliff. In general, 小道 is wider and longer than 小径 and is characterized with difficulty and danger in both construction and use. (截道)

Finally, I shall address that, modern speaking usually does not distinguish the difference between 小路 and 小道, they are interchangeable. However, 小径 shall be reserved for the rural or urban narrow pathways that allow for foot traffic only.

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  • Is 小道 considered a short cut? May 1 at 15:51
  • Maybe in some local, but where I from, we usually say "從小路走比較快因為小路比較短", "那條小路是個捷逕". The exact match with the "take the short cut" is "走捷逕", which has the same usages as its English equivalent.
    – r13
    May 1 at 16:13
  • @jinglingmen No, a shortcut is '捷径'.(捷 = quick) , while a 小道/ 小径 could be the only path to a destination
    – Tang Ho
    May 1 at 16:14
  • @Tang Ho Is 径 the simplified form of 逕?
    – r13
    May 1 at 16:18
  • @jinglingmen 径 = 徑 (path) -- the 彳 radical indicates the character is related to 'steps' --> people walk on paths
    – Tang Ho
    May 1 at 16:20
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What does “小径” mean used in the sentence below ?

小径:狭窄的道路

Why is it used?

The speaker felt like it? Easier than 狭窄的道路??

我该怎么去呢?
How can I get there?

从这条小径走过去吧。
Go through this alley / along this path / along this track to get there.

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