Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese & Mongolian Translation


One Minute Feasts — It's Magic



Simplified Chinese (China)
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
Traditional 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
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 (Chinese characters show etymology)
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
Mongolian (previous)
Хоромхон зуур нарын ширээ засах нь, Ид шидийн гайхамшиг
Khoromkhon zuur nariin shiree zasakh n', id shidiin gaikhamshig
хоромхон зуур khoromkhon zuur = 'in a flash, in an instant'.
нарын nariin = 'fine, delicate, exquisite'.
ширээ shiree = 'table, spread'.
засах zasakh = 'prepare, fix'.
нь n' = (makes previous verb a noun)
ид шид id shid = 'magic' (genitive form).
гайхамшиг gaikhamshig = 'wonder, marvel'.
Preparing a Fine Spread in an Instant, The Wonder of Magic
Mongolian (new)
Ганцхан хоромд найрт бэлдэх ид шидийн гайхамшиг
Gantskhan khoromd nairt beldekh id shidiin gaikhamshig
ганцхан gantskhan = 'just one'.
хором khorom = 'an instant, a moment' (Locative = 'in a minute').
найр nair = 'feast, celebration'.
бэлдэх beldekh = 'prepare'.
ид шид id shid = 'magic' (genitive form).
гайхамшиг gaikhamshig = 'wonder, marvel'.
The Wonder of Magic Preparing a Feast in a Moment

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!

With the exception of the Mainland Chinese translator, all translators largely follow the English structure and meaning.


    The Mainland Chinese translation uses 盛餐 shèngcān meaning 'abundant meal', i.e., banquet. This is quantified with the classifier/measure word as 一桌 yī-zhuō 'table', literally 'one table (of feast)'.

    The Taiwanese uses 宴會大餐 yànhuì dàcān 'banquet large-feast'.

    The Vietnamese translation uses bữa tiệc 'feast, dinner party', pluralised with những.

    The Japanese uses ご馳走 go-chisō, a term that refers to hosting or paying for a meal, usually a nice or slap-up meal (especially when the food is prepared by the host), although it can also be used simply in the meaning of 'treat' or 'shout'. Note the honorific go, which is now frozen in form but originally indicated that providing a meal is a mark of respect.

    The older Mongolian translation uses нарын ширээ nariin shiree, which appears to be an uncommon word for a nice meal.

    The new Mongolian translation uses найр nair 'celebration, banquet'.

One Minute

A one-minute meal conventionally means a meal that can be prepared in a minute. (The alternative, that it is a meal that can be consumed in a minute, is not the normal interpretation.)

    The Taiwanese translation renders this literally as 一分鐘宴會大餐 yìfēn-zhōng yànhuì dàcān, a 'one-minute feast'. This mimics the concept of meals that can be prepared quickly (e.g., 十分鐘料理 shí fēnzhōng liàolǐ 'ten minute cooking') as well as 十分鐘上菜 shí-fēn-zhōng shàngcài 'food served in ten minutes' or 十分鐘上桌 shí-fēn-zhōng shàngzhuō 'on the table in ten minutes'.

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

    The previous Mongolian translation also uses a sentence meaning 'prepare in an instant'. 'In an instant' is хоромхон зуур khoromkhon zuur. Хором khorom means 'one-hundred-thousandth of a second', here followed by the suffix -хон -khon means 'only', 'a trifling'. Зуур zuur also refers to a short period of time. The addition of нь n' to the end gives the meaning 'the fact of fixing a fine table in an instant'.

    The new Mongolian translation also uses хором khorom 'one hundred-thousandth of a second', preceded by ганцхан gantskhan 'just one'. Like the previous Mongolian translation, this forms part of a sentence: Ганцхан хоромд найрт бэлдэх Gantskhan khoromd nairt beldekh 'that is prepared in an instant'.

    Japanese uses a similar approach: 一分間でご馳走を ippunkan de go-chisō o 'a meal in one minute', but the verb つくる tsukuru 'to make' omitted as understood. The verb is easily supplied by the reader, yielding the sense 一分間でご馳走をつくる ippunkan de go-chisō o tsukuru, 'make a feast in one minute'.

    The Mainland Chinese translation dispenses with 'one minute' altogether.

It's magic

The word 'magic' to describe products and processes doesn't appear to trip off the tongue as easily in these languages as it does in English.

    The Taiwanese translator translates it literally as 這是魔法 zhè shì mófǎ 'this is magic'.

    The Vietnamese translator uses đó là phép mầu meaning 'this is magic' or 'this is a miracle'. Phép mầu is used in preference to phép thuật, the word used for 'magic' elsewhere.

    The Japanese translator adopts a different tack, adding まさに masa ni 'truly, literally' to highlight the notion that this is indeed 'magic': まさに魔法だ masa ni mahō da '(it) is literally magic'.

    The previous Mongolian translation uses Ид шидийн гайхамшиг id shidiin gaikhamshig 'the wonder of magic', describing the previous sentence 'Preparing a fine table in an instant'.

    The new Mongolian translation uses the same expression but the preceding sentence modifies ид шидийн гайхамшиг id shidiin gaikhamshig, that is: 'The wonder of magic of preparing a feast in an instant'.

    The Mainland translation does not include a statement equivalent to 'It's magic'. Instead it transfers the sense of magic to the act of creation: 变出 biànchū 'conjure up'.

As can be seen, the Mainland Chinese translator dispenses with most of the sense of the original English to come up with a simple '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 Chinese to different linguistic and cultural habits.

Category: Household magic

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