Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese & Mongolian Translation


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them



Chinese (Mainland)

Guàishòu jí qí chǎndì

Shénqí dòngwù zài nǎ-lǐ

怪兽 guàishòu = 'strange beast'.
= 'and'.
= 'their' (written style).
产地 chǎndì = 'place of origin, native haunt'.

神奇 shénqí = 'magical, strange'.
动物 dòngwù = 'animal'.
zài = 'at'.
哪里 nǎ-lǐ = 'where?'

1. Strange Beasts and their Native Haunts

2. Where are the Magical Animals?
(published version for Comic Relief)

Chinese (Taiwan)
Guàishòu yǔ tāmen de chǎndì
怪獸 guàishòu = 'strange beast'.
= 'and'.
牠們 tāmen = 'they'.
de = connecting particle (possessive)
產地 chǎndì = 'place of origin, native haunt'.
Strange Beasts and their Native Haunts
Maboroshi no dōbutsu to sono seisoku-chi
maboroshi = 'phantasm, phantom, apparition, illusion, dream'.
no = connecting particle
動物 dōbutsu = 'animal'.
to = 'and'.
その sono = 'that, its/their'.
生息 seisoku = 'inhabit'.
chi = 'place, land'.
Phantasmal Animals and their Habitats
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Quái vật kỳ thú và nơi tìm ra chúng

Quái Vật Hoang Đường Và Nơi Tìm Chúng
quái vật (怪物) = 'monster'.
kỳ thú (奇趣) = 'amazing'.
= 'and'.
nơi = 'place'.
tìm ra = 'find'.
chúng = 'them'.

hoang đường (荒唐)= 'legendary, mythical, fictitious'.
Amazing Monsters and Where to Find Them
Mythical Monsters and Where to Find Them
Mongolian (previous)
Гайхалтай амьтад ба тэдгээрийн нутагшил
Gaikhaltai am'tad ba tedgeeriin nutagshil
гайхалтай gaikhaltai = 'wonderful, astonishing, surprising'.
амьтан am'tan = 'animal' (plural амьтад am'tad).
ба ba = 'and'.
тэдгээр tedgeer = 'they' (genitive тэдгээрийн tedgeeriin 'their').
нутагшил nutagshil = 'place where settled'.
Amazing Animals and Their Habitat
Mongolian (new)
Гайхалтай амьтад ба тэдний оршдог газар
Gaikhaltai am'tad ba tednii orshdog gazar
гайхалтай gaikhaltai = 'wonderful, astonishing, surprising'.
амьтан am'tan = 'animal' (plural амьтад am'tad).
ба ba = 'and'.
тэд ted = 'they' (genitive тэдний tednii 'their').
орших orshikh = 'reside, dwell'. (Habitual or repetitive action -дог -dog)
газар gazar = 'place'.
Amazing Animals and the Places Where They Live

We will follow the title and divide this into two parts: 'fantastic beasts' and 'where to find them'.

'Fantastic Beasts'

Rowling uses the words 'fantastic' and 'beast' in their original sense rather than in senses more prevalent today.

'Fantastic' has joined that group of words, like 'fabulous', 'amazing', 'awesome', and even 'wonderful', that have become general terms of approval. In its original meaning, 'fantastic' is related to 'fantasy'. The fantastic beasts are so called because they are not real but belong to the world of fantasy. In the world of Harry Potter, of course, 'fantastic' beasts are just as real as 'real' ones.

'Beast' in modern English tends to refer to something contemptible, but in its original meaning means nothing more than an animal, or to be more exact, a mammal. (This usage is maintained by graziers and pastoralists, who are happy to talk about cattle as 'beasts'.)

'Fantastic beasts' thus simply means 'mythical animals' in ordinary language.

'Fantastic animals' is translated word by word in Japanese and Mongolian, and with compound words in Chinese and Vietnamese:

    The Japanese refers to maboroshi, meaning 'phantasm, illusion, or dream', very close to the meaning of 'fantastic' as used here. 'Beast' is translated as 動物 dōbutsu, meaning 'animal'.

    The Mongolian translations use the word гайхалтай gaikhaltai 'wonderful, astonishing', which veers towards the modern colloquial meaning in English rather than the original meaning. It is derived from the verb гайхах gaikhakh 'be surprised, astonished'. Амьтан am'tan (plural амьтад am'tad) is the normal word for 'animal'.

    In the Chinese versions, 'fantastic beasts' is translated as a single word: 怪獸 (怪兽) guàishòu, written with the characters 'strange, odd, monstrous', and / shòu 'beast, animal', an older term for 'savage beast' that has now largely been replaced by 动物 / 動物 dòngwu 'animal'. The Mainland translator appears to be following the Taiwanese.

    Similarly, Vietnamese uses the compound word quái vật meaning 'monster' or 'sphinx', but also adds adjectives. The adjective used varies between kỳ thú 'amazing' and hoang đường 'legendary, mythical, fictitious'. Note: Quái vật is related to Chinese 怪物 guàiwù, which is made up of guài 'strange, odd, monstrous' and 'thing'. 怪物 guàiwù has meanings ranging from 'monster, monstrosity, freak' to 'eccentric, queer person, oddball'. The corresponding Japanese term 怪物 kaibutsu is variously glossed as 'monster, goblin, hideous creature', or 'sphinx, mysterious creature'.

'Where to find them':

'Where to find them' is a very common type of English construction. At first it sounds like a question (Where to find them?), but in fact means 'places where they can be found'. Other interrogative pronouns are used in a similar manner:

    Wars and how they occur (the way in which)
    Our dog-eat-dog world and who to trust (people to trust)
    Powers You Never Knew You Had and What to Do With Them Now You've Wised Up (things to do / actions to take)
    Sugary treats and why we love them (the reason that)

Not all languages have a direct equivalent to this kind of expression. To translate it, the Chinese, Japanese, and Mongolian translators come up with nouns meaning 'place of origin' or 'place of habitation'. Vietnamese is close to the English.

    The Chinese translations use 产地 / 產地 chǎndì 'place of origin'.

    The Japanese uses the scientific term 生息地 seisoku-chi 'living place, habitat'.

    The two Mongolian translations differ. The previous translation used нутагшил nutagshil 'living place', from nutagshikh 'to acclimatise', derived from нутаг nutag 'home place'. The newer translation uses оршдог газар orshdog gazar, that is the place (газар gazar) where they live (орших orshikh).

    The Vietnamese says nơi tìm chúng 'place find them'.

    To express 'their' ('their place of origin or habitat'):

      The Japanese uses その sono, meaning 'that (proximal)', a conventional translation of 'its' or 'their'.

      The Taiwanese translation uses 牠們的 tāmen de 'their', which is rather colloquial for a book title.

      The Mainland version substitutes , a Classical Chinese word still used in formal prose to mean 'its' or 'their', which is more appropriate for an academic book.

      The two Mongolian versions use different forms meaning 'their': the more formal expression тэдгээрийн tedgeeriin and the more common form тэдний tednii.

    (Note on the character : The Chinese word meaning 'he, she, it', is written differently depending on whether it's being used for a male, a female, an animal, or an object. To mean 'he', is written ; to mean 'she', is written ; to mean 'it', is written (Taiwan only) or (both Mainland and Taiwan).)

Charity Relief version

When the People's Literature Publishing House put out 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' for Charity Relief, they may have felt that 怪兽及其产地 Guàishòu jí qí chǎndì was lacking in appeal — too academic, perhaps? The title was changed to 神奇动物在哪里 Shénqí dòngwù zài nǎ-lǐ 'Where are the magic animals?'

Category: Magical Creatures

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