The Titles of Magical Books in Harry Potter
Most Potent Potions
药剂 yàojì = 'medicament, drug'.
魔藥 móyào = 'magic medicine'.
|Super-strong Magic Medicines|
Mottomo kyōryoku na kusuri
mottomo = 'most'.
強力な kyōryoku na = 'powerful' (na is a form of the verb 'to be' linking the adjective to the noun).
薬 kusuri = 'medicine'.
|Most Powerful Medicines|
|Vietnamese||Độc dược Tối hiệu nghiệm|| độc dược (毒藥) = 'poison
tối (最) = 'most'.
hiệu nghiệm (效驗) = 'efficacious'.
|Most Efficacious Medicines|
The choice of vocabulary represents the attempt of each translator to render the three elements of the English:
The force of the English word 'most' is to indicate that the potions are very powerful, not necessarily that they are the most powerful potions. The word is ignored by the Mainland translator (perhaps wisely so), rendered quite literally in the Japanese and Vietnamese translations, and rendered with a prefix meaning 'super' in the Taiwanese translation.
Used to indicate that something is ‘powerful’, and so rendered by the Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese translators. The Vietnamese translator uses a word meaning 'efficacious' (the cognate word in Chinese means 'desired result, intended effect'), which is possibly a more suitable word for medicines.
‘Potion' is a rather old-fashioned word for a liquid medicine, a poison medicine, or a miraculous medicine. The word chosen is different in each case. Japanese uses a plain word meaning 'medicine'. The Mainland translator uses a word referring to a medicine made according to a formula or prescription. The Taiwanese translator goes for 'magic medicine'. The Vietnamese translator uses a word meaning 'poison medicine', although this refers to the ingredients rather than to the effect of the medicine itself.