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A famous Chinese writer whose pen name is Bingxin once remarked, "读书好 好读书 读好书", which is used to encourage Chinese students to read books.

In this sentence, there are altogether 3 "好"s. The first and the third, both pronounced as "hǎo", are used as adj. to describe "reading" and "book" respectively. And the second one, pronouced as "hào", is used as a verb to persuade us to read.

Is there any good translation for this saying in English?

Thanks.

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  • The Chinese sentence provided is easy to translate, which is why this question has many simple answers. Can you please reword your question to make clear what you are after that cannot be provided by a standard translation otherwise it may be closed as being too general (questions which can be answered by a dictionary).
    – going
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 6:57
  • This question is off-topic because it is asking for a specialized English translation. Accurate English translations are already provided but are not what the OP is after. Question has already been re-asked on the ELL site.
    – going
    Commented Jul 25, 2013 at 0:28

6 Answers 6

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As other explained,"读书好"

reading is good

"好读书"

love reading

But "读好书” is ambiguious,which may mean "read good books",or "excellent at reading or at learning"

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  • +1 for the interesting viewpoint. But the translation for 读好+书 was a little misleading. I think it would be better to clarify that, it doesn't emphasize "one should have to be excellent at reading/learning" but only suggests "one should make effort in learning/reading".
    – Stan
    Commented Jul 21, 2013 at 6:35
  • 读书好(hao3)。 好(hao4)读书。读,好(hao3)书“read good books”,读好,(hao3)书"one should have to be excellent at reading/learning"。 I suggest the "read good books" for 读好书.
    – eccstartup
    Commented Jul 21, 2013 at 11:21
  • 读好书 in Cantonese means "do well in learning".
    – Casper
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 7:29
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读书好 好读书 读好书

Believe in reading, love reading, and cultivate reading.

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  • This is the best translation I could get. I am sure I would be able to make it better if English were my native language. Commented May 16, 2013 at 23:48
  • Thanks. I'm asking this question here because there are native speakers. That's why I explained the meaning of "好", and expected someone to give me a more "native" answer. I'm a Chinese, too. By the way, your answers are excellent~ While I can speak both Chinese and English, I cannot find a way to explain in detail why Chinese is used in a certain way. Anyway, I'm trying to contribute to this community...
    – Paul Allen
    Commented May 17, 2013 at 0:47
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There are often idioms in both languages that have the same meaning and many of the same words, but here are three expressions in one utterance. That means the chances of finding a tight translation are small.

You probably have to chose whether to focus on translating the whole meaning, or building a less connected expression that contains many of the same words.

Here is a little of both:

  • reading is good,
  • so have a good read,
  • read the whole book
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  • Btw, I think the question fits just fine here. Translation and analyzing expressions are among the best ways to learn. Someone without Chinese skills might not have much to contribute to a translation of this. It wouldn't hurt to attract some native Chinese users either.
    – fivecode
    Commented May 26, 2013 at 15:37
  • Thanks a lot. I've asked the same question on ELL as NS.X. suggested and got my answer.
    – Paul Allen
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 12:11
  • That's good. Looks like I got the last part wrong anyway. Hey, since we have you here, could 读好书 mean to finish a book, or does it have to be 读完? Do you know any rules for when to use 好, and when to use 完, when describing completion?
    – fivecode
    Commented May 28, 2013 at 13:07
  • In this sentence, 读好书 merely means that we should read high-quality books that are beneficial to us, then whether you finish reading(读完) them is another question. When describing completion, we seldom use 好 in written words. But whenever you hear “好了” in a sentence, you may try to associate that with the meaning "... is done". E.g. 饭做好了。(The meal is ready.); 今天的作业做好了/做完了。(I've finished today's homework.) In written forms, “完” is more formal than “好”, and in oral forms, I'm afraid there is no certain rules. We do not say “饭做完了” but we say “今天的作业做完了”, so it's just a matter of idiomatic usage.
    – Paul Allen
    Commented May 30, 2013 at 9:50
  • By the way, the answer I got from "there" was "Reading is lovely, love reading, read lovely books" or "Reading is awesome, be awesome at reading, read awesome books".
    – Paul Allen
    Commented May 30, 2013 at 9:54
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"读书好"

reading is good

"好读书"

love reading

"读好书”?

read good books
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  • Yushulx, welcome to Chinese SE. Please elaborate on your answer or provide it as a comment. Thank you.
    – user3871
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 19:28
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@yushulx very common and right answer

读书好 -> Reading book is good and important, also mean learn everything is good

好读书 -> after knew reading book is important, you became love read book, and learn from everything

读好书 -> you read lots of book, then you know which is Excellent book, and only Excellent book will help you more.

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1.the first and the sencod "好" aren't adj. They're adv in chinese, cus they modify the verb"读".

the word modified the adj and verb is the adv

the word modified noun is the adj

2."读书好 好读书 读好书" ----> reading is great,love reading,read excellent books

Hope my answer can help ^_^

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  • 2
    = =大哥,你自己都翻译成“is great”了,当然第一个“好”是形容词。第二个你翻译成“love”,这不就是动词么... 不过还是谢谢您的回答。
    – Paul Allen
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 15:06
  • To the responder: for next time, please write in proper English - that means spelling, grammar and punctuation. Commented May 21, 2013 at 23:54
  • @52Dora Most of the users on Chinese SE are only learning English. If you want to write in Chinese, please provide and English translation. Thank you
    – user3871
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 3:42

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