Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


The Titles of Magical Books in Harry Potter


One Minute Feasts - It's Magic


Chinese (Mainland) 变出一桌盛餐
Biànchū yì-zhuō shéngcān
变出 biànchū = ' conjure' + 'bring out' = 'conjure up'.
一桌 yì-zhuō = 'a table' (classifier/measure word for the following noun).
盛餐 shèngcān = 'magnificent feast'.
Conjure up a feast
Chinese (Taiwan) 一分鐘宴會大餐 — 這是魔法
Yìfēn-zhōng yànhuì dàcān -- zhè shì mófǎ
一分鐘 yìfēn-zhōng = 'one minute'.
宴會 yànhuì = 'banquet, feast, dinner party'.
大餐 dàcān = 'big feast'.
zhè = 'this'.
shì = 'is'.
魔法 mófǎ= 'magic'.
One-minute banquet feasts - this is magic
Japanese 一分間でご馳走を — まさに魔法だ
Ippun-kan de go-chisō o -- masa ni mahō da
一分間で ippun-kan de = 'in one minute'.
ご馳走を go-chisō o = 'meal' + object particle
まさに masa ni = 'truly, literally'.
魔法 mahō = 'magic'.
da = 'is'.
Make a meal in one minute -- it's literally magic
Vietnamese Những bữa tiệc sẵn sàng trong một phút -- đó là phép mầu những = plural marker
bữa tiệc = 'feast, dinner party'.
sẵn sàng = 'prepared, ready for'.
trong = 'in'.
một = 'one'.
phút = 'minute'.
đó = 'that'.
= 'is'.
phép mầu = 'magic, miracle'.
Feasts ready in one minute - it's magic

The English title 'One Minute Feasts -- It's Magic' consists of two parts:

    1) A 'one-minute feast' is a fancy version of a 'one-minute meal' -- a meal that can be prepared in one minute, the ultimate in convenience cooking for modern people on the go.

    2) 'It's magic' parodies the language found in advertising copy ('Stains just disappear like magic!'), used to describe 'amazing' products or processes. Of course, in Harry's world it's real magic!

The Taiwanese, Japanese, and Vietnamese translators follow the English structure.

One-minute feasts:

    The Taiwanese uses a literal translation, 一分鐘宴會大餐 yìfēn-zhōng yànhuì dàcān, literally a 'one-minute feast', on the assumption that this will make sense in Chinese as a quickly-prepared meal. I'm not sure whether this is actually the case.

    The Vietnamese chooses to explain the meaning by saying that these meals are ready (sẵn sàng) in one minute.

    The Japanese uses a short sentence meaning 'banquets in one minute'. The verb つくる tsukuru 'to make' is left out but is easily supplied by the reader. The sentence would read in full: 一分間でご馳走をつくる ippunkan de go-chisō o tsukuru, i.e., 'make a feast in one minute'. The word ご馳走 go-chisō refers to a meal prepared or purchased for a guest.

It's magic:

    The word 'magic' to describe products and processes doesn't appear to trip off the tongue as easily in these three languages as it does in English. The Taiwanese translator is the only one to translate it literally. The Vietnamese translator uses phép mầu meaning 'magic' or 'miracle', rather than phép thuật, the straightforward word for 'magic'. The Japanese translator adopts a different tack, adding まさに masa ni 'truly, literally' to highlight the notion that this is indeed 'magic'.

The Mainland Chinese translator dispenses with these to come up with a simplified version meaning 'Conjure Up A Feast'. What this loses in literalness it makes up in naturalness -- it still retains the idea of using magic to create a feast but spares the translator the contortions needed to tailor the English to different linguistic and cultural habits. Incidentally, 一桌盛餐 yìzhuō shèngcān ('a table of feast') is used in the same way that we might say 'a spoonful of medicine' or 'a pocketful of money' in English. See classifiers.

Category: Household magic

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