Dexing wrote:众生 is living beings and 界 is world, also used together in eye-world, ear-world, etc., aka the "18 Realms/Worlds" 十八界.
I think then we better look at what Dogen wrote:realms
: 世界 (world), 法界 (dharma-realm), 一莖草 (a blade of grass), 一杖 (a staff)elements
: 水 (water), 雲 (cloud), 風 (wind), 火 (fire), 地 (earth) beings
: 有情 (sentient being), 佛 (buddha), 祖 (ancestor)
Not that this would change the meaning already obtained from the translation.
However, the "dharma-dhatu" also is a term which can mean many different things - the sphere of mental objects, dependent origination - in both reified and non-reified senses, and "the universe" (which is both of the former for many east asian schools).
And a "realm" in general can also refer to a range of the senses, including mind in general. (Here the Skt is "visaya", etc. but they are all the same in Chinese.)
I think that the Chinese terms for a "living being" 眾生 has more potential for word play than "sentient being" 有情, in that the Chinese often gloss "living being" 眾生 as 眾緣所生 = "that born from many conditions". Of course, this simply doesn't work in Skt or Pali (for sattva / satta), but the Chinese, esp. Chan, has a lot of mileage from this. After all, this again becomes synonymous for "any phenomena which is arisen dependently", ie. everything.
This is a great case whereby reading the kanji has just so many more levels than any English translation could, unless one back reads the Chinese into it. Once put into other languages, other potential readings open up, and others close down. Just as from the Skt to Chinese, this happens, so too from Chinese / Japanese to English.
No doubt there are many more in there in the Japanese, that I simply am completely unaware of, too.