Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


The Titles of Magical Books in Harry Potter


Gadding With Ghouls


Chinese (Mainland) 与食尸鬼同游
Yǔ shíshī-guǐ tóngyóu
= 'with'.
食尸鬼 shíshī-guǐ = 'eat-corpse-demon'.
同游 tóngyóu = 'travel together'.
Travelling with Cadaver-Devouring Demons
Chinese (Taiwan) 與惡鬼四處遊蕩
Yǔ èguǐ sìchù yóudàng
= 'with'.
惡鬼 èguǐ = 'evil demon'.
四處 sìchù = 'four places' = 'everywhere'.
遊蕩 yóudàng = 'to loaf about, loiter, wander'.
Wandering the World with an Evil Demon
Japanese グールお化けとのクールな散策
Gūru o-bake to no kūru na sansaku
グール Gūru = 'ghoul' (English)
お化けと o-bake to = 'ghost' + 'with' = 'with a ghost'.
no = connecting particle
クールな kūru na = 'cool' (from English), plus adjectival ending na.
散策 sansaku = 'a walk'.
Cool walk with ghoul ghosts
Vietnamese Lang thang với ma xó lang thang = 'to wander'.
với = 'with'.
ma xó = 'spirit of house corners', also 'busybody who knows about other people's affairs'.
Roaming with the Spirit of House Corners (or Busybodies)

The books in the Gilderoy Lockhart Series 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.


A ghoul is an evil spirit of Islamic origin that was said to dig up graves and devour the cadavers. The translators come up with rather different renditions.

  • The Mainland Chinese translator, with 'cadaver-devouring demon', comes closest to the original meaning of 'ghoul'.
  • The Taiwanese translator settles for the more generic 'evil demon'.
  • The Japanese translator uses the English word ghoul (gūru) with an explanation that this is a kind of お化け o-bake or 'ghost'. The Japanese translator continues her alliteration with a pun on 'ghoul' and 'cool'.
  • The Vietnamese translator has not tried to come up with Vietnamese equivalent for the 'ghoul', instead using ma xó, a kind of spirit that was worshipped in house corners. Colloquially it refers to busybodies who know everything about the affairs of other families (as though they were actually there and able to see everything, like a ma xó sitting in the corner). The ma xó doesn't have anything in common with a ghoul and is essentially a harmless creature.

In contrast to the original meaning of ghoul, however, Rowling comes up with her own definition in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, where the Ghoul is described as 'residing in attics or barns belonging to wizards, where it eats spiders and moths'.

Break With A Banshee Holidays With Hags Travels With Trolls
Voyages With Vampires Wandering With Werewolves Year With The Yeti

Category: Adventure

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