Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese & Mongolian Translation


Break With A Banshee



Chinese (Mainland)
Yǔ nǚguǐ juéliè
= 'with'.
女鬼 nǚguǐ = 'woman-demon'.
决裂 juéliè = 'break-up'.
Break-up with a Woman-Demon
Chinese (Taiwan)
Yǔ bàosàng nǚyāo gòngxiǎng xiūxián shíguāng
= 'with'.
報喪 bàosàng = 'predict-death'.
女妖 nǚyāo = 'female ghost, demon'.
共享 gòngxiǎng = 'share'.
休閒 xiūxián = 'leisure'.
時光 shíguāng = 'time'.
Sharing Leisure Time with a Death-Foretelling Female Ghost
Naki-yōkai banshii to no nau na kyūjitsu
泣き妖怪 naki-yōkai = 'crying ghost, apparition'.
バンシーと banshii to = Banshee (English) + 'with' = 'with a banshee'.
no = connecting particle
ナウな nau na = 'trendy' (from English now + 'na' adjective ending).
休日 kyūjitsu = 'holiday, day off'.
A Trendy Day Off with a Banshee Crying Ghost
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Giải lao với nữ báo tử

Đoạn Tuyệt Nữ Thần Báo Tử
giải lao (解勞) = 'rest, interruption, break'.
với ='with'.
nữ () = 'female'.
báo () = 'to foretell'.
tử () = 'death'.

đoạn tuyệt (斷絕) = 'break up'.
nữ thần (女神) = 'goddess'.
báo () = 'to foretell'.
tử () = 'death'.
A Rest with a Death Foretelling Woman

Breaking off (with) a Death Foretelling Goddess
Mongolian (previous)
Шимнустай эвдрэлцсэн нь
Shimnustai evderltssen n'
шимнус shimnus = 'demon, evil spirit' (Comitative form 'with').
эвдрэх evdrekh = 'to break, break up with'.
(Past tense, -лц- -lts- indicates mutual action).
нь n' = particle here used to mean 'about'.
About having (Mutually) Broken Up with an Evil Spirit
Mongolian (new)
Хий үзэгдлийг барсан нь
Khii üzegdliig barsan n'
хий үзэгдэл khii üzegdel = 'hallucination' (Accusative case).
(хий khii related to Chinese )
барах barakh = 'finish'.
нь n' = particle here used to mean 'about'.
About the Hallucination Having Finished

The books in the Gilderoy Lockhart Series follow a simple but humorous pattern in English.

All describe spending time with a particular kind of unsavoury creature.

All are expressed in the form 'X with Y'.

In each case there is alliteration between X and Y (Break with a Banshee, Gadding with Ghouls, Holidays with Hags, etc.).

The interesting points in any translation are:

    How this assortment of unpleasant creatures is translated.

    How the parallel expressions are treated.

    How the effect of the alliteration is reproduced. This is the most difficult task because alliteration is, of course, dependent on the particular sound of words in a language.


The banshee is a wailing ghost of Irish legend that appears shortly before someone's death. It is not a part of traditional Oriental folklore. The translations use quite different methods of translating this word.

    The Mainland Chinese version simply translates it as 女鬼 nǚguǐ 'demon woman'. On the one hand, this loses some of the original. On the other hand, this detail is not important to the total effect — Chinese readers don't really need to know exactly what a 'banshee' is, only that it is an unattractive kind of female demon.

    The Taiwanese translator makes up a term that captures one aspect of the banshee, 報喪女妖 bàosàng nǚyāo, a 'death-foretelling female demon'.

    Similarly, the Vietnamese translator creates the term nữ báo tử, composed of Sino-Vietnamese morphemes: nữ () 'woman' modified by báo tử (報死) 'foretell death'. Later she uses a variation on this: nữ thần báo tử, where nữ thần (女神) is 'goddess'.

    The Japanese translator concentrates on the 'wailing' side of the banshee, using a transliteration of banshee (バンシー banshii) and characterising it as a 'crying ghost' (泣き妖怪 naki-yōkai 'crying + ghost, demon'). While an effective method of introducing the English term and explaining its meaning at the same time, this translation is a little contrived. The choice of 泣き naki 'crying' is related to the translator's effort to reproduce the alliteration (see below).

    The previous Mongolian translation uses the word шимнус shimnus, referring to a malevolent demon or evil spirit. (This is also known as шулам shulam or шулмас shulmas.)

    The new Mongolian translation uses хий үзэгдэл khii üzegdel, which does not refer to a ghostly entity but to a hallucination. (хий is related to Chinese 'gas, spirit, breath. Үзэгдэл üzegdel 'appearance, apparition, phenomenon' is from the verb үзэгдэх üzegdekh 'to appear, happen, occur', the passive of үзэх üzekh 'to see, look at'.) This considerably alters the sense of the original.

Break with a...:

'Break' could have at least two interpretations in English. One is the concept of 'breaking up' with someone you have been on good terms with. The other is spending time relaxing (as in a 'coffee break' or 'holiday break'). It is not possible to say definitively which is meant, although in keeping with the other titles it is more likely to refer to a period of time than a severance of ties.

Translators go two ways on this one. Several translations choose the sense of spending free time with:

    The Taiwanese translation gives 共享休閒時光 gòngxiǎng xiūxián shíguāng 'share leisure time'.

    The Japanese translator chooses 休日 kyūjitsu 'holiday, day off'.

    At the book's first appearance in Book 2, the Vietnamese translator uses giải lao 'rest, interruption, break' (解勞 in Chinese characters).

Other translators choose the sense of breaking up:

    The Mainland Chinese translator chooses 决裂 juéliè 'break-up'.

    At Book 7, the Vietnamese translator translates 'break' as đoạn tuyệt 'break up' (斷絕 in Chinese characters).

    The previous Mongolian translation uses эвдрэх evdrekh meaning 'to break up'.

    In keeping with its translation of 'banshee' as 'hallucination', the new Mongolian translation uses барах barakh 'to finish'.


The title is treated grammatically as:

(1) A full sentence, with verb:

    The Mainland translator uses a stripped down sentence using a verb: 与女鬼决裂 yǔ nǚguǐ juéliè '(Someone) breaks up with a banshee'.

    The Chinese (Taiwan) translator similarly uses a full sentence, although somewhat longer: 與報喪女妖共享休閒時光 yǔ bàosàng nǚyāo gòngxiǎng xiūxián shíguāng '(Someone) spends casual time with a banshee'.

    Both Mongolian translators use full sentences, followed by the particle нь, which is used for story titles. The previous translation was: Шимнустай эвдрэлцсэн нь Shimnustai evderlchsen n' 'broke up with a banshee'. The new translation gets the sense different but uses a similar sentence-type structure: Хий үзэгдлийг барсан нь Khii üzegdliig barsan n' ('The hallucination finished').

    One of the Vietnamese translations can also be regarded as a sentence: đoạn tuyệt nữ thần báo tử 'to break off with a banshee'.

(2) Verb is converted into a noun, as in English:

    The Japanese title uses the noun 休日 kyūjitsu 'holiday, day off'. This is modified by バンシーと banshii to 'with a banshee'. If the modifying construction contained a verb it could be used as is, e.g., バンシーと過ごした休日 banshii to sugoshita kyūjitsu 'day off (I) spent with a banshee'. But without a verb, the modifier requires the linking particle no, thus: バンシーとの休日 banshii to no kyūjitsu 'day off with a banshee'.

    One of the Vietnamese translation uses giải lao 'have a break, a recess', which could be either a noun or a verb.


Only the Japanese translator tries to reproduce the alliteration. This is done by alliterating the name of the demon (naki-yookai) and an adjective used to describe the time spent with it (nau na). The term ナウな nau na was a trendy term in Japan some years ago, derived from the English word 'now'.

Gadding With Ghouls Holidays With Hags Travels With Trolls
Wandering With Werewolves Voyages With Vampires Year With The Yeti

Category: Adventure

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