雪は解け去った。

English Translation

The snow has melted away.

Could the Kanji 溶け also woke for 解け?

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@ericaw
It’s a very good (and tough) question! Even some native speakers easily get confused. I hope you will not be so overwhelmed with the following explanation.

Both 解ける and 溶ける are translated as “melt” in English. But we use each for different objects or situations.

  • 氷 (ice), 雪 (snow), 氷柱 (icicle), 冷凍食品 (frozen processed food), 問題 (issue/problem) ==> 解ける

  • 塩/砂糖 (salt/sugar) into water, 金属 (metal melting and becoming alloy), アイスクリーム (ice cream) ==> 溶ける

解ける is usually used when something hard/solid is becoming softer, and that is regarded as a good/natural transformation. So, 解ける has the connotation of “loosening the tension” or “returning to the normal”.

溶ける is used when it is blended with something else, or when the melting is not supposed to happen.

Frozen processed food and ice cream are good examples.
The natural form of frozen food such as meat and potatoes is at normal temperature. They are temporarily frozen. You NEED to melt it when you consume. You will find 解凍する (pron. かいとうする) on the instruction of a frozen food package. You cannot replace 解凍する with 溶凍する.

On the other hand, melted ice cream is spoiled. It shouldn’t be melted. That’s why we say アイスクリームが溶けた instead of 解けた.

For the sample reason, snow and icicles are not in a favorable condition for ordinary human beings. It is much better if they are liquidated. It is the same as “solving/cracking problems”.

By the way, 解け去った in the original Japanese sentence is understandable but an unnatural word-for-word translation. I would suggest to replace it with:

雪は解けきった。

雪は完全に解けた。

完全になくなった。

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