Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese & Mongolian Translation


Chapter 5: The Whomping Willow


Simplified Chinese (China)
打人 dǎ rén = 'hit person'.
liǔ = 'willow'.
The Person-hitting Willow
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)
hún = 'stupid, unsophisticated'.
pīn = 'go all out, be ready to risk all (in a fight, in work, etc.)'.
liǔ = 'willow'.
The Blindly Fighting Willow
暴れ abare- = 'running amok, riotous'
(from the verb 暴れる abareru 'behave furiously, run amok'.)
yanagi = 'willow'.
The Violent/Rioting Willow
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Cây liễu roi cây = 'tree'.
liễu () = 'willow'.
roi = 'whip, lash, bamboo cane'.
The Whip Willow Tree
Mongolian (previous)
Ууртай уд мод
Uurtai ud mod
ууртай uurtai = 'angry'.
уд мод ud mod = 'willow tree'.
The Angry Willow Tree
Mongolian (new)
Зодоонч уд мод
Zodoonch ud mod
зодоонч zodoonch = 'fighter, brawler'
уд мод ud mod = 'willow tree'.
The Brawling Willow Tree

The English name is based on 'Weeping Willow', playfully modified to 'Whomping Willow' (thanks to Randolph Fritz for pointing this out). The word 'willow' is easy enough. The problem is 'whomping', which is based on the informal word 'whomp', meaning 'strike heavily; thump'. True to its name, the tree manages to 'whomp' Harry and Ron's car as it arrives at Hogwarts.

Different translators come up with different solutions.

    The Mainland Chinese version renders the meaning of the name ('person-hitting willow').

    The Taiwanese version tries to render the English word 'whomping' phonetically (as hún-pīn) while simultaneously hinting at the English meaning. The name means something like 'willow that struggles stupidly' or 'the willow that goes all out blindly'.

    The Japanese is a good attempt to capture the nature of the willow in a natural-sounding expression. In fact, 暴れ柳 abare-yanagi is an echo of the construction しだれ柳 shidare-yanagi ('weeping willow'), being a similar structure with the same number of syllables (Thanks to Ramon Escamilla for pointing this out).

    The Vietnamese likens the willow to a bamboo cane or whip.

    The previous Mongolian translation described the willow as 'angry', similar to the Mongolian name for Angry Birds, ууртай шувуу uurtai shuvuu. The newer translation uses the word зодоонч zodoonch, which is a word for a person involved in зодоон zodoon 'a fight or brawl'. This is in turn related to зодох zodokh meaning 'beat, hit, strike, assault'.

(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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