Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Chapter Titles in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese


Chapter 3: The Letters from No One


(For the romanisation of Chinese and Japanese, see Transliteration. To understand the writing systems of CJV, see Writing Systems. For word order notes, see Word Order)

Where a Vietnamese word has been borrowed from Chinese, the original Chinese characters are shown in parentheses.


Chinese (Mainland) 猫头鹰传书
Māotóuyīng chuánshū
猫头鹰 māotóuyīng = 'owl'.
chuán = 'transmit' or 'pass on'.
shū = 'book' or 'letter'.
Owl message
Chinese (Taiwan) 從天而降的信函
Cóng tiān ér jiàng de xìnhán
cóng = 'from'.
tiān = 'heaven/sky'.
ér = grammatical particle, partnered with cóng
jiàng = 'descend'.
de = connecting particle
信函 xìnhán = formal word for 'letter'.
The unexpected letters
Japanese 知らない人からの手紙
Shiranai hito kara no tegami
知らない shiranai = 'not know' (shiru = 'to know').
人から hito kara = 'person' + 'from' = 'from a person'.
no = connecting particle
手紙 tegami = 'letter'.
Letters from an unknown person
Vietnamese Những lá thư không xuất xứ những = plural marker for thư('letter').
= counter for letters, etc.
thư () = 'letter'.
không = 'not/no'.
xuất xứ (出處) = 'source'.
Letters with no source

'Letters from No One', believe it or not, can be difficult to translate into foreign languages. In English, if you say 'I got letters from no one' it usually means 'I got no letters'. But in this chapter, 'letters from no one' doesn't mean Harry got no letters (he got lots of them!); it's a witty way of saying that the letters came from somewhere unknown. Translators have to come up with ingenious ways of saying this.

The Mainland Chinese version ('owl message') is modelled on the concept of 'carrier pigeons', known (among things) as 传书鸽 chuánshū-gē 'transmit letter pigeon' in Chinese.

The Taiwanese version uses the expression 從天而降 cóng tiān ér jiàng, 'come down from the sky', which refers to something that occurs suddenly, unexpectedly, or with no apparent cause.

The Japanese and Vietnamese versions are more straightforward ways of expressing the concept.

(The page headers in the Vietnamese version give the slightly different title of Những bức thư không xuất xứ, where bức is an alternative to as a counter/classifier for letters.)

(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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