Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese & Mongolian Translation
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Chapter 12: The Polyjuice Potion

 

Chinese (Mainland)
复方汤剂
Fùfāng tāngjì
复方 fùfāng = 'multi ingredient'.
汤剂 tāngjì = 'decoction'.
Multi-ingredient Decoction
Chinese (Taiwan)
變身水
Biànshēn-shuǐ
變身 biànshēn = 'change-body' = 'transfiguration'.
shuǐ = 'water'.
Transfiguration Water
Japanese
ポリジュース薬
Porijūsu-yaku
ポリジュース porijūsu = 'Polyjuice'.
-yaku = 'medicine'.
Polyjuice Medicine
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Món thuốc Đa dịch món thuốc = 'course of medicine'
Đa dịch (多液) = 'multiple liquid'
Multi-liquid Medicine
Mongolian (previous)
Олон шүүсний ханд
Olon shüüsnii khand
олон olon = 'many'.
шүүс shüüs = 'juice' (genitive).
ханд khand = 'concoction.
Many Juice Decoction
Mongolian (new)
Хувиргагч уусмал
Khuvirgagch uusmal
хувиргагч khuvirgagch = 'transforming'.
уусмал uusmal = 'potion'.
Transfigurating Solution

The Polyjuice Potion is a potion that allows the drinker to assume the form of someone else. It is a complex and time-consuming concoction involving many steps and two parts, which is presumably why it is called Polyjuice ('poly-' = 'many' in Greek + 'juice').

Translators tackle this in three different ways: Translate the meaning ('many juice'); transliterate the sound ('polyjuice'); and rename the potion for its effect ('transfiguration potion').

Polyjuice = Many Juice

    The Mainland Chinese version comes up with an ingenious translation for 'polyjuice' using concepts from traditional Chinese medicine. The word 复方 fùfāng ('multiple prescription') refers to a medicine made up of two or more ingredients, in other words, a Poly-juice. The word 汤剂 tāngjì is a Chinese term for a 'decoction or potion'. 'Polyjuice potion' is thus a 'multi-ingredient decoction' in traditional medical terms.

    The Vietnamese translator coins a Chinese-style expression, Đa dịch, corresponding to the Chinese characters 多液 duōyè, 'multiple liquid'. Potion is rendered as món thuốc 'course of medicine'.

    The previous Mongolian translation called the Polyjuice Potion олон шүүсний ханд olon shüüsnii khand 'many juice decoction'. (Because шүүс is so similar to English 'juice', жүүс jüüs is now commonly used instead of шүүс shüüs in Mongolia.)

Transliteration

    Japanese simply represents the English word 'polyjuice' phonetically as ポリジュース porijūsu. Even if ポリ pori is not understandable to the average Japanese reader, ジュース jūsu will be as it is the common word for 'juice' (usually meaning 'orange juice' unless qualified).

'Transfiguration potion'

    The Taiwanese translator directly expresses the transfigurative purpose of the potion and calls it 變身水 biànshēn-shuǐ 'transform body water'.

    The new Mongolian translation calls it хувиргагч уусмал khuvirgagch uusmal 'transforming solution'. Хувиргагч 'that which transforms' is based on the verb хувиргах 'to cause to change' (related to хувирах khuvirakh 'to transform, be transformed'). Уусмал uusmal means 'solution', based on the verb уусах uusakh 'to dissolve'.

(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 11
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