Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese & Mongolian Translation
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Magical Theory

 

 

Chinese (Mainland)
魔法理论
Mófǎ lǐlùn
魔法 mófǎ = 'magic'.
理论 lǐlùn = 'theory'.
Theory of Magic
Chinese (Taiwan)
魔法理論
Mófǎ lǐlùn
魔法 mófǎ = 'magic'.
理論 lǐlùn = 'theory'.
Theory of Magic
Japanese
魔法論
Mahō-ron
魔法 mahō = 'magic'.
-ron = 'theory'.
Theory of Magic
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Lý thuyết Pháp thuật lý thuyết (理說) = 'theory'.
pháp thuật (法術) = 'magic'.
Theory of Magic
Mongolian (previous)
Ид шидийн онол
Id shidiin onol
ид шид id shid = 'magic' (genitive form).
онол onol = 'theory'.
Theory of Magic
Mongolian (new)
Ид шидийн онол
Id shidiin onol
ид шид id shid = 'magic' (genitive form).
онол onol = 'theory'.
Theory of Magic

All translators translate the title directly. I have glossed the translations as 'Theory of Magic' in the table but 'Magical Theory' would also be correct.

The Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese (CJV) translators use vocabulary for 'magic' and 'theory' that is derived from a common stock of word-building elements, although there are differences in vocabulary and translation. Mongolian does not share any vocabulary with the other three languages.

Magic

In Harry Potter, the translators use the following names for 'magic':

    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 is not necessarily negative, possibly under the influence of the English word 'magic' (e.g., 'the magic of Disney').

    The Vietnamese translator uses pháp thuật, related to Chinese 法術 fǎshù. Originally, 法術 fǎshù in Chinese referred to the human-style magic practised by Daoist (Taoist) masters as opposed to the magic of supernatural ghosts and demons. Note: 法術 fǎshù is also occasionally used in the Mainland Chinese translation of Harry Potter to mean 'magic'. However, it is less common as an equivalent of the English term 'magic'.

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

Theory:

Chinese and Japanese share the same word for 'theory', 理論 (simplified 理论 lǐlùn) in Chinese, 理論 riron in Japanese.

On the other hand, Vietnamese uses the word lý thuyết. This word is made up of two Chinese roots meaning 'principle' + 'hypothesis', written 理說 lǐshuō in Chinese characters (simplified to 理说 in China). Although it originated in Chinese and was used, for example, at the time of Matteo Ricci in the early 17th century, this word is not in use in modern Chinese.

While the Chinese, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese translators all use the full word for 'theory', it's also possible to create a compound word using just the character (-lùn, -ron or luận) 'theory, discourse' to express the meaning 'theory'. For instance, Das Kapital by Karl Marx is known in East Asia as 'The Theory of Capital': 資本論 or 资本论 Zī-běn-lùn in Chinese, 資本論 Shihon-ron in Japanese, and Tư bản luận in Vietnamese. The Japanese translator uses this method to create the word 魔法論 mahō-ron 'theory of magic'.

Mongolian has its own term for 'theory', онол onol, which is used in translating the name of the book.

Category: Theory of Magic

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