Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


Numerology and Grammatica



Chinese (Mainland)
Shùzì-xué hé yǔfǎ-xué

Shùzì-zhànbǔ yǔ túxíng
数字学 shùzì-xué = 'numeral + -ology'.
= 'and'.
语法学 yǔfǎ-xué = 'grammar + ology'.

数字占卜 shùzì-zhànbǔ = 'numeral + divining'.
= 'and' (written).
图形 túxíng = 'diagrams, pictures'.
Numerology and Grammar-ology

Numeral divining and Diagrams
Chinese (Taiwan)
Mìnglǐ yǔ cèzì
命理 mìnglǐ = 'principle of fate'.
= 'and' (written).
測字 cèzì = 'fortune-telling by analysing the parts of Chinese characters (glyphomancy)'.
Principles of Fate and Glyphomancy
Sūmitsu-gaku to bunpō-gaku
数秘学 sūmitsu-gaku = 'number-secret-ology'.
to = 'and'.
文法学 bunpō-gaku = 'grammar-ology'.
Secret-numerology and Grammar-ology
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Thuật Số Và Ngữ Pháp

Lượng Số Học Và Ngữ Pháp
thuật số (術數) = 'art/technique of numbers' = divination'.
= 'and'.
ngữ pháp (語法) = 'grammar'.

lượng số học (量數學) = 'study of quantities'.
Divination and Grammar
Study of Quantities and Grammar

Subjects of Western Magic:

These abstruse subjects are difficult to translate.

Numerology purports to divine a person's fate from numbers — for instance, by using the date of a person's birthday to foretell their future.

Grammatica is nothing more than the study of grammar, although to the ancients it was an essential subject of higher learning.


    The Mainland translator follows the English quite closely, using the suffix -xué ('study of, -ology') to convey an academic tone. But the content of these 'ologies' is nothing more than 'numbers' and 'grammar'.

    In Book 7, the translators change numerology to the more accurate 数字占卜 shùzì-zhànbǔ 'divining by numbers' (which is an advance), but grammatica somewhat inexplicably changes into 图形 túxíng 'diagrams or pictures'.

    The Japanese translator adopts a similar strategy, using the same suffix -gaku. 'Numerology' goes by the dictionary translation: the study of the secrets of numbers (数秘学 sūmitsu-gaku).

    The Taiwanese translator adopts the most interesting solution by substituting two Chinese subjects related to the study of personal fate. 命理 mìnglǐ refers to the 'principles of fate'. 測字 cèzì is a traditional Chinese method of fortune-telling by analysing the parts and number of strokes in Chinese characters of personal names. (If the fortune-teller finds that the combination of characters, number of strokes, etc. used in your name is unlucky, then you should think of changing it!). Of course, the Taiwanese title sacrifices grammatology, but the loss is not great.

    The Vietnamese translator uses thuật số, meaning 'divination'. It is related to the Chinese term 術數 shùshù, which is a cover term for traditional methods of divination such as 命理 mìnglǐ and 測字 cèzì above.

Category: Theory of Magic

arrow up