Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


The Titles of Magical Books in Harry Potter


Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century


Chinese (Mainland) 二十世纪重要魔法事件
Èr-shí shìjì zhòngyào mófǎ shìjiàn
二十 èr-shí = 'twenty'.
世纪 shìjì = 'century'.
重要 zhòngyào = 'important'.
魔法 mófǎ = 'magic'.
事件 shìjiàn = 'incident'.
Important Magical Incidents of the 20th Century
Chinese (Taiwan) 二十世紀重要巫術事件
Èr-shí shìjì zhòngyào wūshù shìjiàn
二十 èr-shí = 'twenty'.
世紀 shìjì = 'century'.
重要 zhòngyào = 'important'.
巫術 wūshù = 'wizard arts'.
事件 shìjiàn = 'incident'.
Important Wizardry Incidents of the 20th Century
Japanese 二十世紀の魔法大事件
Nijisseiki no mahō dai-jiken
二十世紀 nijisseiki = '20th century'.
no = connecting particle
魔法 mahō = 'magic'.
大事件 dai-jiken = 'large incident'.
Major Magical Incidents of the 20th Century
Vietnamese Những sự kiện phù phép lớn trong thế kỷ hai mươi những = plural marker
sự kiện (事件) = 'incident'.
phù phép = 'bewitching'.
lớn = 'large'.
trong = 'in'.
thế kỷ (世紀) = 'century'.
hai mươi = 'twenty'.
Major Wizarding Incidents in the 20th Century

The three languages share not a small amount of Chinese-based vocabulary, which shows up clearly in this book title.

  • 'Event' becomes 事件 (Chinese shìjiàn, Japanese jiken, Vietnamese sự kiện) in all three languages.
  • 'Century' also uses the same word in all three: 世紀 / 世纪 shìjì in Chinese, 世紀 seiki in Japanese, thế kỷ in Vietnamese.

This shared vocabulary is a result of the use of Chinese characters by all three languages. Whether the words 事件 or 世紀 were created in China is another question. Quite often, these kinds of compound were created by the Japanese in the 19th century as translations of Western terminology and then 're-exported' to China, from which they were borrowed by the Vietnamese in turn.

Note that there is less unanimity on the translation of 'wizarding'. Both the Mainland and Japanese translators use 魔法 (Chinese mófǎ, Japanese mahō) meaning 'magic'. The Taiwanese and Vietnamese translators use other terms.

Category: History

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