Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese & Mongolian Translation
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A History of Magic

 

 

Chinese (Mainland)
魔法史
Mófǎ-shǐ
魔法 mófǎ = 'magic'.
-shǐ = 'history'.
History of Magic
Chinese (Taiwan)
魔法史
Mófǎ-shǐ
魔法 mófǎ = 'magic'.
-shǐ = 'history'.
History of Magic
Japanese
魔法史
Mahō-shi
魔法 mahō = 'magic'.
-shi = 'history'.
History of Magic
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Lịch sử Pháp thuật lịch sử (歷史) = 'history'.
pháp thuật (法術) = 'magic'.
History of Magic
Mongolian (previous)
Ид шидийн түүх
Id shidiin tüükh
ид шид id shid = 'magic' (genitive form).
түүх tüükh = 'history'.
History of Magic
Mongolian (new)
Ид шидийн түүх
Id shidiin tüükh
ид шид id shid = 'magic' (genitive form).
түүх tüükh = 'history'.
History of Magic

All versions use a straightforward translation of the English.

Vocabulary used in the CJV languages is closely related. In fact, the Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese translators use the same vocabulary (when written in Chinese characters) when translating the name. The Vietnamese translation deviates somewhat. Mongolian is not a CJV language and is quite different from the other three.

History

The word for 'history' is the same in the CJV languages: 歷史 / 历史 lì shǐ (Chinese), 歴史 rekishi (Japanese), or lịch sử (Vietnamese).

However, in describing a field of history as an academic subject, it is more usual in CJV languages to use the shorter form shǐ (Chinese), shi (Japanese), or sử (Vietnamese). The Chinese (Mainland and Taiwanese) and Japanese translators follow this custom. For some reason, only the Vietnamese translator does not. Perhaps this is because Vietnamese no longer uses Chinese characters, which means that the full word lịch sử is clearer than the single syllable sử. (Note: The Korean translation, which does not use Chinese characters, also uses the full form 역사 yeogsa.)

The important role of Chinese characters in conveying meaning can be seen from Japanese. Looking just at the pronunciation, mahō-shi could conceivably mean 'magic poetry', 'magic words', 'magic paper', 'magic city', 'magician' or 'magical death' because shi can also mean 'poetry' (), 'word' (), 'paper' (), 'city' (), 'practitioner' (), or 'death' (). The character 'history' makes the meaning clear. There is less of a problem in Chinese and Vietnamese because they have tones and a richer sound system than Japanese.

Mongolian has its own word for history, түүх tüükh, and does not use a Chinese loanword.

Magic

In English, 'magic', wizardry', 'witchcraft', and 'sorcery' are all different words for magic. CJV languages also have a number of alternative names. In Harry Potter, the translators use the following names:

    The Chinese (Mainland and Taiwanese) and Japanese versions use the word 魔法 (Chinese mófǎ, Japanese mahō), literally the 'way or methods of the ghosts'. This word has lost most of its unfavourable associations, perhaps under the influence of 'magic' in English (e.g., 'the magic of Disney').

    The Vietnamese translator uses pháp thuật, which is related to Chinese 法術 fǎshù. Originally, 法術 fǎshù in Chinese referred to human-style magic practised by Daoist (Taoist) masters, as opposed to the magic of supernatural ghosts and demons. 法術 fǎshù is also used at one or two places in the Mainland Chinese translation of Harry Potter to mean 'magic'. However, it is not the usual Chinese term for translating the English word 'magic'.

Mongolian uses a different, unrelated term from the CJV languages: ид шид id shid, which means 'sorcery' or 'magic'. Another term for 'magic' or 'miracles' (not used here) is рид шид rid shid.

Category: History

Found in Book One Chapter 5 and Chapter 6; Book Three Chapter 1; and Book Seven Chapter 8, Chapter 10, and Chapter 16.

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