Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


The Titles of Magical Books in Harry Potter


Enchantment in Baking


Chinese (Mainland) 烤面包的魔法
Kǎo miànbāo de mófǎ
kǎo = 'toast'.
面包 miànbāo= 'bread'.
de = connecting particle
魔法 mófǎ = 'magic'.
The Magic of Toasting Bread
Chinese (Taiwan) 烘焙的魔法
Hōngbèi de mófǎ
烘焙 hōngbèi = 'cure, roast (tea, tobacco)'.
de = connecting particle
魔法 mófǎ = 'magic'.
The Magic of Roasting
Japanese お菓子をつくる楽しい呪文
O-kashi o tsukuru tanoshii jumon
お菓子を o-kashi o = 'cake, sweets' + object particle.
つくる tsukuru = 'make'.
楽しい tanoshii = 'pleasant, enjoyable'.
呪文 jumon = 'spell'.
Enjoyable Spells for Making Cakes
Vietnamese Sự quyến rũ của nghệ thuật nướng bánh sự = makes the following into a noun
quyến rũ = 'charm, seduce, captivate'.
của = 'of, belonging to'.
nghệ thuật (藝術) = 'art'.
nướng = 'fry, roast, toast, grill'.
bánh = 'cake, pie pastry' (nướng bánh normally means 'toast bread').
The Charms of the Art of Toasting

Somewhat amazingly, both 'enchantment' and 'baking' give rise to difficulties in translation!


'Enchantment' originally referred to the casting of spells. This is how it is interpreted by the Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese translators, whether as 'magic' or as 'spells'. But there is also a figurative sense of 'captivated, charmed' (compare the French term enchanté). This is how it has been interpreted by the Vietnamese translator. Both senses are legitimate, a fact which is exploited by Rowling. In this context, however, the sense of 'casting magic spells' seems to be the dominant one (i.e., 'The Use of Enchantment in Baking' rather than 'Finding Enchantment in Baking').

The Japanese translator has captured both meanings, getting the meaning of 'magic' in 呪文 jumon ('spell') and the meaning of 'enchantment' in 楽しい tanoshii ('pleasant, enjoyable').


'To bake' in English has a surprising range of application, referring to prolonged exposure to an external heat source. People have been known to bake beans, bricks, and pottery, among other things. But in the absence of a particular subject, 'baking' in English normally refers to bread and cakes. If Mum or Dad says she (or he) is going to do some baking, one would not normally assume that he or she is about to throw a few bricks or pottery in the kiln.

It's not surprising that the translators get a bit mixed up, especially if they're relying on dictionaries rather than experience. The Mainland translator talks about 'toasting bread', the Taiwanese translator talks about 'curing, roasting' as applied to tea leaves and tobacco, and the Vietnamese translator uses an expression that normally means 'toast bread' but could be used for baking cakes. Only the Japanese translator gets it right.

Category: Household magic

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