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大約過了五分鐘,水柱嘎然停止。

What does 嘎然 mean?

I know the sentence says after five minutes, the water sprout immediately stopped.

The word 嘎 means a sudden and loud sound. I don't understand what 然 means here. Does 嘎然停止 mean it stopped loudly? Thanks for the help.

2 Answers 2

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嘎然 is a non-standard spelling of 戛然. 戛然停止 means suddenly stop.

然 is an adjective suffix in classical Chinese, analogous to 地 in modern Chinese. 戛, as you mentioned, was originally "a sudden loud cry (of a bird, etc.)." However in Ming dynasty it gained the sense of "suddenly" without the part of "a loud sound." There might be an influence from 恝然. Compare:

《警世通言》: 雖然離別是苦事,那漢子千里相隨,恝然而去,也是個薄情的。

《玉嬌梨》: 高賢幸遇,何忍戛然就去,況天色日暮,如何去得!

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  • So 戛地停止 would have the same sense of meaning as using 然? Thanks. Commented Jan 29 at 18:38
  • No, 戛然而止 is a chengyu. Do not replace 然 with 地. Commented Jan 29 at 18:39
  • So 然 just modifies 戛 with 停止? Like "suddenly-然-stopped" and doesn't have a meaning by itself? Sorry I'm very confused on this point and have little understanding. Commented Jan 29 at 18:47
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    Not quite. In Qing dynasty texts 戛然 means "suddenly" and could be followed by a number of verbs, as you can see in the quote (戛然就去). Gradually, it came to be only used in the idiomatic phrase 戛然而止 (or 戛然停止 in your text), meaning suddenly stop. 然 is a "grammatical particle" (助词) that has no independent meaning. Commented Jan 29 at 18:51
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In this context, 嘎然 means the same as 突然. 嘎 is a short loud noise, and when combined with 然 (like), 嘎然 (嘎-like) is extended to mean "suddenly," as a short loud noise appears and disappears suddenly.

But 嘎然(而止) is usually used to mean that a sound has suddenly stopped, so I'm not sure it's being used correctly here.

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