Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


The Titles of Magical Books in Harry Potter


Break With A Banshee


Chinese (Mainland) 与女鬼决裂
Yǔ nǚguǐ juéliè
= 'with'.
女鬼 nǚguǐ = 'woman-demon'.
决裂 juéliè = 'break-up'.
Break-up with a Woman-Demon
Chinese (Taiwan) 與報喪女妖共享休閒時光
Yǔ bàosàng nǚyāo gòngxiǎng xiūxián shíguāng
= 'with'.
報喪 bàosàng = 'predict-death'.
女妖 nǚyāo = 'female ghost'.
共享 gòngxiǎng = 'share'.
休閒 xiūxián = 'leisure'.
時光 shíguāng = 'time'.
Sharing Leisure Time with a Death-Foretelling Female Ghost
Japanese 泣き妖怪バンシーとのナウな休日
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 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 Female Death Foreteller

Breaking off (with) a Goddess Death Foreteller

The books in the Gilderoy Lockhart Series (except for Magical Me) follow a simple but humorous pattern in English. All describe spending time with a particular kind of unsavoury creature, 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 meanings are expressed.

    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 Chinese translator gets off to a bad start by misinterpreting the meaning of 'break'. It's clear from the other titles that this should be the 'break' in 'coffee break' or 'holiday break', not the 'break' in 'break-up'. (Most likely it is a holiday break rather than a coffee break). In Book 7, the Vietnamese translator makes the same mistake.


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 four translations use three different methods of translating this word.

  • The Mainland Chinese version simply translates it as '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 translator has chosen a valid way of handling the title.
  • The Taiwanese and Vietnamese translators make up terms that capture one aspect of the banshee, a 'death-foretelling woman'.
  • The Japanese translator decides to concentrate on the 'wailing' side of the banshee, taking the original English word banshee and describing it in Japanese as a 'wailing ghost'. This is an effective method of introducing the English term and explaining its meaning at the same time, although a little contrived. The choice of naki 'crying' is related to the translator's effort to reproduce the alliteration.

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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