Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation



The Monster Book of Monsters



Simplified Chinese (China)
Yāoguài-men de yāoguài-shū
妖怪 yāoguài-men = 'monsters, bogeys, goblins, demons', -men makes it plural ('monsters').
de = connecting particle
妖怪 yāoguài = 'monster, bogey, goblin, demon'.
shū = 'book'.
The Monsters' Book of Monsters
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)
Guàishòu de guàishòu-shū
怪獸 guàishòu = 'strange, monstrous beast'.
de = connecting particle
怪獸 guàishòu = 'strange, monstrous beast'.
shū = 'book'.
The Monster Book of Monsters
Kaibutsu-teki na kaibutsu no hon
怪物的な kaibutsu-teki na = 'monstrous' (怪物 kaibutsu 'monster' + -teki ending with function similar to English '-ical' + na, an ending for certain types of adjective).
怪物 kaibutsu = 'monster'.
no = connecting particle
hon = 'book'.
The Monstrous Book of Monsters
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Quái Thư Về Quái Vật quái thư (怪書)= 'strange book'.
về = 'about'.
quái vật (怪物) = 'monster'.
The Strange Book about Monsters


In English, a 'monster' or 'monstrous' suggests something huge. Advertisers use the word 'monster' to tell customers (especially kids) that they're getting something that is extra-big. The 'monster book' is a huge book.

But Rowling cunningly makes use of the second possible meaning, 'something that acts like a monster'. The double meaning is what makes the scene in 'Flourish & Blotts' bookshop so hilarious, because the books literally behave like 'monsters'!

Unfortunately, none of the CJV words for 'monster' has the meaning of 'huge', thus losing the pun. The name of the book in the three languages can only mean a book that acts like a monster.

Comparing the translation of the word 'monster':

  • 妖怪 yāoguài in the Mainland edition is a Chinese word that refers to creatures of legend or fairy tale that are strange and terrible, have magic powers, and harm human beings (a word also found in Japanese as 妖怪 yōkai, similarly used for ghosts, apparitions, goblins, and monsters).
  • The Taiwanese translator uses 怪獸 guàishòu, 'strange beast', the same as the word used for 'fantastic beast' in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them).
  • The Japanese translator uses 怪物 kaibutsu, meaning 'monster, goblin, hideous creature', or 'sphinx, mysterious creature' (see note to 'Fantastic Beasts').
  • The Vietnamese translator, like the Taiwanese, uses the same word as that used for 'fantastic beast', namely quái vật (怪物).

An introduction to Japanese ghosts and monsters can be found at Japanese Ghosts, Ghosts, Demons, and Spirits in Japanese Art, All-About's section on Japanese Ghosts, and ukiyo-e prints of Japanese ghosts in Horror Special. Chinese ghosts are not so well served, although there are a number of sites devoted to female ghosts seducing young scholars, including: The Illuminated Lantern (with a nice bibliography), Tales from the Dark Side - Understanding Chinese Ghosts, and Chinese Ghosts. Sadly, Vietnamese ghosts are almost entirely missing from the Internet.

Category: Magical Creatures

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