Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese & Mongolian Translation


Chapter 11: Quidditch


Chinese (Mainland)
Kuídìqí bǐsài
魁地奇 Kuídìqí = 'Quidditch' (phonetic).
比赛 bǐsài = 'match, game'
Quidditch Game
Chinese (Taiwan)
Kuídìqí bǐsài
魁地奇 Kuídìqí = 'Quidditch' (phonetic).
比賽 bǐsài = 'match, game'.
Quidditch Game
クィディッチ Kwiditchi = 'Quidditch'. Quidditch
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Quidditch Quidditch (pronunciation: Quít-đit). Quidditch
Mongolian (previous)
Квидич Kvidich = 'Quidditch'.
Mongolian (new)
Квиддич Kviddich = 'Quidditch'. Quidditch

All translations represent 'Quidditch' phonetically.

To represent foreign words phonetically, Chinese uses characters for their sound rather than their meaning. While Chinese has developed phonetic scripts that are capable of representing the pronunciation of words (e.g., the Zhuyin fuhao), the preference is still to use characters. In this case, the characters 魁地奇 have the meaning 'chief/head' or 'stalwart' + 'ground' + 'strange'. Although they don't make a lot of sense, you can be pretty sure that the translator thought carefully when choosing these characters over the other possibilities. (For instance, 'qui' could have been represented by kuī 'loss' or / kuì 'ulcer', neither of which would have been suitable.) It is likely that the Mainland translator copied the Taiwanese translation.

Unlike Chinese, Japanese did develop a script capable of representing sounds directly. This is katakana, in which each syllable is shown as a single letter. In fact, the sound 'di' combination in Kwiditchi was originally foreign to Japanese speakers and couldn't be represented in katakana. The Japanese came up with a makeshift way of indicating this new sound by combining two letters + (de plus small i) and giving them the pronounciation 'di'. Similarly, the letters + (ku plus small i) are an attempt to represent English 'qui'. The use of クィ is fairly progressive in its way. Japanese traditionally converts a 'qu' into a simple 'k', as in リキッド rikiddo (rather than リクィッド rikwiddo) for 'liquid'.

Vietnamese uses the English spelling as is, but due to Vietnamese phonology this is likely to be pronounced 'quit dit'. Indeed, the original version of this translation, which appeared in instalments, had a footnote with the pronunciation given as Quít-đit.

The Mongolian versions adopt slightly different approaches. The older translation attempts to represent pronunciation as found in English, Квидич Kvidich. The newer translation, following the general trend in Mongolian, is misled by the spelling to double the 'd' sound, leading to a pronunciation similar to 'Quid ditch'. (For reference, Russian translations feature different versions: Квиддич Kviddich, Квиддитч Kvidditch, and Квидиш Kvidish.)

(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 10
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