How does 把“汉字六书”翻译成“六本书”,是错误的。translate into english?

I Asked a question on this site and got a comment only stating 把“汉字六书”翻译成“六本书”,是错误的。.

I don't know Chinese language. Doing some internet searching, "be wrong" is the only thing I could extract.

4 Answers 4



Translate "汉字六书" (Six Chinese character types) as "汉字六本书"(six books of Chinese words) is wrong

  • 汉字六 refers to six Chinese character types

  • 本 is a classifier for "book"

  • 六本书 means "six books", which is not the same as "six types of characters"

  • Thank you very much, so "本 is a classifier for "book"" so I learned that there are classifiers in Chinese language, just like, clumsily, "the train they call the city of New Orleans" in western English. Commented Apr 24 at 21:47

"六书" - refers to the six categories of Chinese characters

"六本书" means "six books" (本 is a classifier for counting books)



Calling 书 book in “汉字六书” is misleading. 书 refers to the ancient system of classification of character types or forms. (I don't know what modern linguists think of this system!)


(4) 字体,字形 [form of a written or printed character;script]。


汉字六书: 汉字构造和分类的一种系统
(The) Six Scripts of Chinese: a system of constructing and classifying Chinese characters.

(The) Six Scripts of Chinese refers to a system of constructing and classifying characters introduced by the ancient Chinese,

mainly comprising 6 basic types: pictogram, ideogram, combined ideogram, ideogram plus phonetic, transfer character and loan character.

The following is a detailed introduction

I won't bother with the details here, they are easy to find.


To change "(The) Six Forms of Chinese Characters" into "(The) Six Books" is wrong.

  • I don't think it is outright wrong, it is just choosing one translation and omitting all the other possible translations. Translation out of context is near impossible. Commented Apr 25 at 18:45
  • Even hand signs change their meaning. In Hollywood movies "hands up" are to show you have no knives or handguns. Some thousand years ago the same gesture would probably be interpreted as a threat of a fist coming down. Commented Apr 25 at 18:55
  • "Even hand signs change their meaning. " You mean "六本书, 6 books" has changed its meaning to "6 ways of constructing and classifying Chinese characters."?? Before that, Chinese "books" were rolls of bamboo strips, or tortoise shells!! “汉字六书”的"六书": 指“六书”,即中国古代分析文字的理论. But 书 is a slippery eel, so many shades of meaning!
    – Pedroski
    Commented Apr 26 at 6:42


It is wrong to translate “汉字六书” into “六本书” (six books).

The following URLs show this mistake:



The contents of those websites may still be correct.

My understanding of "汉字六书" is that the word "书" is a verb (书写, write), or a present participle (writing). It means "six methods for writing characters" or "six guiding principles on how to study and write characters". (汉字的六种基本分析方法和书写方法)

Many translate "汉字六书" into "six types of characters" or "six categories of characters". That is not wrong, but the English version means "六类汉字", which does not indicate "writing".

  • I would rephrase "汉字的六种基本分析方法和书写方法" as "六种汉字構造方法的分類" - 象形、指事、会意、形声、转注、假借.
    – r13
    Commented Apr 25 at 2:25
  • @r13 严格来说,汉字并不是按照“六书”造的。绝大部分汉字在“六书”之前就有了。所以,“六书”只是后来的学生学习汉字时便于分析和理解的一些方法。而且,”六书“不能概括全部汉字。
    – PdotWang
    Commented Apr 25 at 16:32
  • Agree, I shall have said "六种分析汉字構造的分類".
    – r13
    Commented Apr 25 at 17:14

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