Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


Charm Your Own Cheese



Simplified Chinese (China)
Gěi nǐ de nǎilào shīshàng mófǎ
gěi = 'give'.
= 'you'.
de = connecting particle
奶酪 nǎilào = 'cheese'.
施上 shīshàng = 'to work, cast'.
魔法 mófǎ = 'magic'.
Give Your Cheese an Application of Magic
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)
Duì nǐ de rǔlào xià fúzhòu
duì= 'towards, directed at'.
= 'you'.
de = connecting particle
乳酪 rǔlào = 'cheese'.
xià = 'cast, place'.
符咒 fúzhòu = 'incantations (Daoist)'
Place an Incantation on Your Cheese
Jika-sei mahō chiizu no tsukuri-kata
自家製 jika-sei = 'home-made'.
魔法 mahō = 'magic'.
チーズ chiizu = 'cheese' (from English cheese).
no = connecting particle
つくり方 tsukuri-kata = 'method of making', from つくる tsukuru = 'to make' + -kata 'method'.
How to Make Home-made Magical Cheese
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Ếm bùa phô mai của chính mình ếm bùa = 'cast a spell on'.
phô mai = 'cheese' (from French fromage').
của = 'belonging to'.
chính mình = 'onself'.
Cast a Spell on Your Own Cheese
Mongolian (previous)
Шидээр бяслаг бүтээхүй
Shideer byaslag büteekhüi
шид shid = 'magic, sorcery' (Instrumental case = 'with magic').
бяслаг byaslag = 'cheese'.
бүтээх büteekh = 'make, produce' (Archaic past tense).
Making Cheese with Magic
Mongolian (new)
Бяслаг хийх шид
Byaslag khiikh shid
бяслаг byaslag = 'cheese'.
хийх khiikh = 'make'.
шид shid = 'magic, sorcery'.
Magic for Making Cheese

This is one of three cookery-related books found in the kitchen at 'The Burrow'.

This is a very interesting title in English. Before looking at what it means, let's look at what it could mean:

    (1) Be charming to: This suggests that you could 'use your skills of diplomacy and flattery to make someone feel that they are truly wonderful'. This might make sense if the book were titled 'Charm Your Own Wife', but one's charms would be wasted on a lump of cheese.

    (2) Cast a spell on: This interpretation is possible although it's not clear exactly what is to be gained by casting a spell on one's own cheese — change its colour perhaps, or improve its flavour? Turn it invisible, or make it inexhaustible so that no matter how much you ate there would always be the same amount you started with?

    (3) Use magic to create: In this sense, 'charm' doesn't simply mean 'cast a magic spell on'; it refers to the use of magic charms to create something, just as 'baking' and 'building' mean creating something new from raw materials or ingredients.

The third appears to be the correct one. This title is thus modelled on books like 'Bake Your Own Bread' or 'Build Your Own Backyard BBQ'. This extends the meaning of the word 'charm' in a way that is part of the genius of English. Note that 'own' in this case emphasises that the cheese is made by the consumer him/herself, as opposed to being bought in a shop.

Two points are important in translating the full sense of the title: firstly, the translation should imply that something is being 'created' by means of magic charms, and secondly, it should imply doing this oneself in contrast to buying from someone else. How do the translators fare?


Only some of the translators use expressions related to making cheese.

    The Japanese translation uses the verb つくる tsukuru meaning 'to make'. Since tsukuru is a very pedestrian verb, the magical connotations of 'charm' are transferred to the cheese itself as 魔法チーズ mahō chiizu 'magical cheese'.

    The older Mongolian translation uses an archaic past-tense form of the verb бүтээх büteekh 'make, produce'. In the modern language this often functions as a de-verbal noun indicating an activity ('producing'). The instrumental case of шид shid 'supernatural forces, magic, sorcery' indicates the employment of magic. The result is a straightforward 'producing cheese using sorcery'.

    The new Mongolian translation puts magic to the fore. бяслаг хийх byaslag khiikh is used as a modifier to шид shid 'magic, sorcery'. The meaning is thus 'magic that makes cheese', or in more natural English, 'magic for making cheese'.

Both Chinese translators and the Vietnamese translator use expressions meaning 'put a spell on your cheese'.

    The Mainland Chinese translation uses 施上魔法 shīshàng mófǎ 'apply magic'. This is used in combination with gěi 'give', which implies that this will benefit the cheese. The sense is, 'give your cheese an application of magic'.

    The Traditional Chinese (Taiwan) translation uses 對...乳酪下符咒 Duì ... rǔlào xià fúzhòu 'place an incantation on cheese'. 符咒 fúzhòu refers to Daoist incantations.

    The Vietnamese translator uses ếm bùa 'cast a spell on'.

There is no doubt a kind of incongruous charm and humour about casting a spell on a lump of cheese, in keeping with Rowling's whimsical book titles, but they miss the all-important aspect that this is a book designed to tell you how to prepare food.


Cheese is an integral part of the Western diet but has traditionally been absent from or just a minor part of the diet of sedentary East Asians. The Mongols, on the other hand, traditionally enjoy a diet of diary.

    In Chinese there are a number of names for 'cheese' using the character lào, which refers to curdled milk products. They include 奶酪 nǎilào 'milk lao', 乳酪 rǔlào 'milk lao', and 幹酪 / 干酪 gānlào 'dried lao'. Waiters in fancy hotels are more likely to say 起士 qǐshì or 芝士 zhīshì, both from English 'cheese'. The Mainland translation uses 奶酪 nǎilào and the Taiwanese translation 乳酪 rǔlào. (In Inner Mongolia, 奶酪 nǎilào is used to refer to a kind of soft, sweet product made from powdered milk that is sold to tourists as authentically "Mongolian".)

    Both Vietnamese and Japanese use borrowed terms: phô mai (from French fromage) and チーズ chiizu (from English 'cheese').

    The Mongolian word бяслаг byaslag now refers to any kind of cheese but originally referred to a traditional Mongolian style of unripened cheese. бяслаг byaslag is made by boiling milk to separate the cream (өрөм öröm or clotted cream), after which the remaining skimmed milk is processed using kefir into a mild type of cheese that, according to Wikipedia, is "like a cross between mozzarella and an unsalted feta cheese".


The word 'own', as mentioned above, emphasises the act of creating the cheese oneself rather than buying it from someone else.

    The Chinese translators both use 你的 nǐ de 'your', but this merely indicates cheese in your possession and is just a more personal way of discussing 'how to charm cheese'.

    The Vietnamese translator translates 'own' quite explicitly as của chính mình 'of your own', so that it means something like 'put a spell on your very own cheese'.

    The Japanese translation expresses the concept of making your own cheese best with 自家製 jika-sei 'home made'.

    The Mongolian translations omit any mention of 'your own'. That is possibly because, while (Western-style) cheeses must be bought in shops in cities, byaslag as a home-made product is the cultural norm in the Mongolian countryside.

Category: Household magic

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