Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese & Mongolian Translation


Chapter 3: The Burrow


Simplified Chinese (China)
陋剧 lòujū = 'mean/humble residence'.
The Humble Dwelling
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)
洞穴 dòngxué = 'cavern'.
= 'home'
The Cavern Home
隠れ kakure- = 'hidden'
(from the verb 隠れる kakureru 'to hide').
ana = 'hole'.
Hidden Hole
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Trang trại Hang Sóc trang trại = 'farm, farmhouse, farmstead'.
hang = 'cave, den, lair'.
sóc = 'squirrel'.
Squirrel Den Farm House
Mongolian (previous)
үүр üür = 'nest, lair'. The Nest
Mongolian (new)
үүр üür = 'nest, lair'. The Nest

'The Burrow' is the affectionate name of the higgledy-piggledy but friendly house belonging to the Weasley's. (For a description of the Burrow, see Harry Potter Lexicon.)

A burrow is a hole inhabitated by an animal. As some have pointed out, 'Weasley' sounds like 'weasel', and weasels live in burrows, suggesting that this is another example of Rowling's whimsical humour. A burrow is not necessarily a damp, dingy little hole; it can be a big rambling burrow like a rabbit warren. The hobbits of Middle-earth ('Lord of the Rings') lived in burrows, too.

This is all rather difficult to put into a foreign language, as our translators find out. All struggle to express the meaning of 'burrow' in the sense that seems to be intended by the author.

    The Mainland Chinese translator describes Weasley's house as a 'humble dwelling' or 'mean dwelling'. Since the Weasley's lived in a house for friendly, unpretentious people and not a magnificent palace, this captures part of the meaning of 'burrow'.

    The Taiwanese version uses 洞穴 dòngxué meaning 'cavern' plus meaning 'room' or 'house', thus sticking closest to the English in its literal sense -- but not necessarily conveying the connotations of the name.

    Japanese uses an expression meaning 'hidden hole', a place hidden away from the world in which one can be free and at ease. Since the Weasley home is not visible to Muggles and is a place of friendliness and happiness for Harry, this translation also captures part of the meaning of 'burrow'.

    The Vietnamese version calls the Burrow trang trại Hang Sóc, 'Squirrel Den farm house', a rather cute image that is not at all out of place for the Weasley's home. The rustic setting of the house is captured by the notion of a farmhouse or farmstead (trang trại) and the concept of a friendly den is captured by 'squirrel den'.

    Note: In the original instalments, the Vietnamese translator entitled this chapter Trang trại Burrow, indicating in a footnote as follows: Burrow: Bơ-râu [burrow = cái hang (thỏ, cáo)]. This conveys the information that (1) 'Burrow' is pronounced Bơ-râu and (2) that it means 'cave / den / lair' (of a rabbit or fox).

    Both Mongolian translations use the word үүр üür, a convenient word with a broad sense referring to the nest of a bird or lair of an animal.

(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 2
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