Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese & Mongolian Translation


Chapter 5: Diagon Alley


Simplified Chinese (China)
对角 duìjiǎo = 'diagonal'.
xiàng = 'alley'.
Diagonal Alley
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)
斜角 xiéjiǎo = 'oblique angle'.
xiàng = 'alley'.
Oblique Angle Alley
Daiagon yokochō
ダイアゴン Daiagon = 'Diagon'.
横町 yokochō = 'alley'.
Diagon Alley
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Hẻm xéo hẻm = 'alley'.
xéo = 'oblique/slanting'.
Oblique Alley
Mongolian (previous)
Ташуу гудамж
Tashuu gydamj
ташуу tashuu = 'oblique, slanting, sloping'.
гудамж gudamj = 'street, alley, lane'.
Slanting Street
Mongolian (new)
Диагон гудамж
Diagon gudamj
Диагон Diagon = 'Diagon'.
гудамж gudamj = 'street, alley, lane'.
Diagon Street


Four translations try to reproduce the pun contained in the English original, i.e., 'diagon alley = diagonally'.

    The Mainland Chinese translation uses 对角 duìjiǎo, a geometrical term for the diagonal or opposite angle. This is the closest geometrical equivalent to 'diagonal' in English.

    The Taiwanese translator uses 斜角 xiéjiǎo 'oblique angle', referring to any angle that is not a right angle.

    The Vietnamese translator uses xéo, a dialect term meaning 'oblique', 'slanting' or 'sidelong'.

    The previous Mongolian translation uses ташуу tashuu meaning 'oblique', 'slanting', or 'sloping'.

For more information, see the section on Word play: Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley.

Two translations simply give a phonetic rendition of 'Diagon'.

    The Japanese version gives the pronunciation of the name in English, Die-a-gon, which means nothing in Japanese and loses the pun on 'diagonally'.

    The new Mongolian translation similarly uses Диагон Diagon, (pronounced Dee-a-gon) losing the pun captured in the earlier translation.


Translators all present 'Diagon Alley' as a small side street rather than a main street.

    The Chinese translators use xiàng, the most neutral term for a small alley in a city. (Local terms like hutong (胡同 hútong) in Beijing have been avoided.)

    The Japanese uses 横町 yokochō (also written 横丁 yokochō), a term for a small side street that comes off a main street.

    The Vietnamese term hẻm is used for an alley, lane, or dead end.

    In Mongolian, гудамж gudamj is traditionally used for a lane, alley, or side street. In Ulaanbaatar гудамж gudamj now tends to be broadly applied to city streets, not only side streets or back streets.

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

Chapter 4
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