Chinese Word of the Day – 書

Nowadays, the character 書 (pinyin: shu) means book. In antiquity the character for book is 冊 (pinyin: ce, pronounced: tsuh). So what did 書 mean back in the day? Well it meant script. Today, 書 means script in Chinese calligraphy. Examples include:

楷書 (pinyin: kai shu) – regular Script
隸書 (pinyin: li shu) – clerical script
草書 (pinyin: cao shu) – cursive script


Medieval Chinese: syo (pronounced syo)

Mandarin: shu (pronounced shu)

Cantonese: syu (pronounced sshyee)

Hakka: su (pronounced su)

Hokkien: su  (pronounced su)

Japanese: sho

Korean: seo

Vietnamese: thư


The earliest record of the character 書 is found in bronze inscriptions of the Western Zhou dynasty (c. 1050 – 771 BCE).