"What are you writing?"
Translation:Что ты пишешь?
What nuance is the prefix "за-" bringing to this sentence? How does "Что ты записываешь?" differ in feel from "что ты пишешь?"
Its shifts the meaning towards 'writing down, recording'. I.e. in «писа́ть» the process of writing is the most important, in «запи́сывать» it's the process of creating some form of a text. In this context, they’re really interchangeable, you can use either.
Also, «запи́сывать» can mean 'to record' as in 'to record video', while «писа́ть» can mean 'to paint pictures'.
Nice! Thanks for the explanation. It was both concise and clear (and helpful).
So if I am writing a novel or a story, it would be better to use запи́сывать, correct?
No, it's better to use писа́ть. Запи́сывать means creating the written text, when you запи́сываете что́-то you might not be an actual author (for example, when someone записа́ла ска́зку, she's usually not an actual author of the fairy tale, she just recorded it).
Писа́ть, on the other hand, would mean that you're author of the novel or the story. You've not just creating a text, you're also creating characters, plot and other things.
Here're examples where записа́ть (perfective to запи́сывать) is contrasted with написа́ть (perfective to писа́ть):
- Лённрот запи́сал мно́жество наро́дных пе́сен и на и́х осно́ве написа́л э́пос. 'Lönnrot wrote down many folk songs and wrote an epic based on them.'
- Светла́на Алексие́вич записа́ла расска́зы очеви́диц и на их осно́ве написа́ла кни́гу о войне́ с же́нской то́чки зре́ния. 'Svetlana Aleksievich recorded the female eye-witnesses' accounts and, based on them, wrote a book about the war from the women's point of view.'
So what do you call creating means copying. Then писать means to write as to produce a text while записывать means to write down or to copy. Am I right?
Shouldn't this rather be "What are you writing down" ?
Considering how purist can Duo and it's moderators be sometimes, I got the urge to nag here hah :P