Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese & Mongolian Translation


Chapter 2: The Vanishing Glass


Simplified Chinese (China)
Qiāoqiāo xiāoshī de bōli
悄悄 qiāoqiāo = 'quietly'.
消失 xiāoshī = 'to vanish'.
de = connecting particle
玻璃 bōli = 'glass'.
The Glass that Quietly Vanished
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)
Xiāoshī de bōli
消失 xiāoshī = 'to vanish'.
de = connecting particle
玻璃 bōli = 'glass'.
The Glass that Vanished
Kieta garasu
消える kieru 'vanish, disappear' (Past tense).
ガラス garasu = 'glass' (as a substance).
The Glass that Vanished
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Tấm kính biến mất tấm 'pane' (counter for glass, mirrors, etc.)
kính () = 'glass, glasses'.
biến mất = 'vanish'.
The Glass that Vanished/The Glass Vanishes
Mongolian (previous)
Шил алга болов
Shil alag bolov
шил shil = 'glass'.
алга alag = 'not there'.
болох bolokh 'become' (recent past tense form).
The Glass Disappeared
Mongolian (new)
Алга болсон шил
Alag bolson shil
алга alag = 'not there'.
болох bolokh 'become' (Past tense).
шил shil = 'glass'.
The Glass that Disappeared

The 'vanishing glass' refers, of course, to the pane of glass in front of the boa constrictor's enclosure at the zoo which vanished mysteriously when Dursley knocked Harry out of the way to have a look. (In the book the pane of glass just vanished and let the snake out. In the movie, it vanished and reappeared again when the snake had gone, trapping Dudley on the wrong side of the glass!)

This chapter title looks like a fairly straightforward expression, but English is a tricksy language with more meanings than first meet the eye.


'Vanishing' here has two possible meanings: (1) Present tense: a glass that vanishes (e.g., a kind of trick or magical glass that has the property of vanishing if you try and touch it), and (2) Past tense: a glass that vanished (for instance, a mystery story about 'the case of the vanishing glass'). Here the correct meaning is the second one, and that's how it's been translated in all four languages.


The English doesn't make it clear whether it was a pane of glass, a glass container, or even an eye-glass that vanished -- it could easily have been a glass of water that disappeared from a table, for instance. Most of the translations make it clear that glass (a pane of glass) and not a glass was meant.

    Chinese uses 玻璃 bōli, referring to the substance.

    Japanese uses ガラス garasu, a loanword from Dutch, to indicate the substance. (グラス gurasu, from English, refers to a glass for drinking from.

    Vietnamese uses the counter tấm, which is used for mirrors and panes of glass. (See also Chapter 12.)

    In Mongolian, шил does not distinguish among the different senses and can mean 'glass', 'glasses' or even 'bottle'.

    (A summary of this chapter can be found at Harry Potter Facts. Detailed notes on the chapter can be found at Harry Potter Lexicon)

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