Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation
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Chapter 17: The Heir of Slytherin

 

Chinese (Mainland)
斯莱特林的继承人
Sīláitèlín de jìchéng-rén
斯莱特林 Sīláitèlín = 'Slytherin'.
de = connecting particle
继承人 jìchéng-rén = 'heir'.
Slytherin's Heir
Chinese (Taiwan)
史萊哲林的傳人
Shǐláizhélín de chuánrén
史萊哲林 Shǐláizhélín = 'Slytherin'.
de = connecting particle
傳人 chuánrén = 'successor, exponent (of a craft)'.
Slytherin's Successor
Japanese
スリザリンの継承者
Surizarin no keishōsha
スリザリン Surizarin = 'Slytherin'.
no = connecting particle.
継承者 keishōsha = 'heir'.
Slytherin's Heir
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Người kế vị Slytherin người kế vị = 'heir (to the throne, etc.)'
(kế vị = 繼位)
Slytherin (pronunciation according to footnote: Xờ-li-thơ-rin).
Slytherin's Heir
Mongolian (previous)
Слизериний залгамжлагч
Slizerinii zalgamjlagch
Слизерин Slizerin = 'Slytherin' (Genitive form).
залгамжлагч zalgamjlagch = 'heir, successor'.
Slytherin's Heir
Mongolian (new)
Слизериний залгамжлагч
Slizerinii zalgamjlagch
Слизерин Slizerin = 'Slytherin' (Genitive form).
залгамжлагч zalgamjlagch = 'heir, successor'.
Slytherin's Heir

The self-proclaimed heir of Salazar Slytherin was Tom Riddle.

Heir

An heir is generally defined as either:

  • a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person's death.
  • a person who inherits and continues the work of a predecessor.

There are two possible grounds for Tom Riddle's claim to be Slytherin's heir. The first is his direct descent from Slytherin through his mother. Thanks to this blood relationship, Riddle was able to speak Parselmouth, a gift that only descendants of Slytherin enjoyed, enabling him to open the Chamber of Secrets. The second is his conviction that he upholds Slytherin's values, including his embrace of the Dark Arts and his prejudice against Muggles -- even though he was half Muggle himself. Tom Riddle effectively saw himself both as Slytherin's blood descendant and as his spiritual successor.

There is a certain fuzziness in Riddle's perception of himself as Slytherin's heir, which has occasioned debate among fans and clarifications from Rowling. This fuzziness has led to certain differences in the way 'heir' is translated.

    The Mainland Chinese version uses 继承人 jìchéng-rén 'person who inherits', the standard dictionary translation for 'heir'. The verb 继承 jìchéng, formed of the morphemes 'to continue, maintain, carry on' and chéng 'inherit, succeed', covers both inheritance of an earlier person's traditions or work, and inheritance of their position or property by dint of a legal right or rights bestowed by a will. This is broad enough to cover Tom Riddle's position as the heir of Slytherin in all possible senses.

    The Japanese translation uses virtually the same term: 継承者 keishōsha ( sha also means 'person'), which can similarly refer either to a person who inherits the status or work of a previous person (including carrying on a tradition or art) or one who inherits the property of a person.

    The Taiwanese version uses 傳人 chuánrén ('transmit + person', simplified 传人), emphasising blood descent and the transmission of tradition. 傳人 chuánrén can refer to a person to whom a skill or craft has been passed on; it is frequently used for master craftsmen, kung fu masters, etc. 傳人 chuánrén thus presents Tom Riddle as Slytherin's heir by virtue of transmitting his craft and carrying on his work. The term can also be used for blood lineage (the Chinese regard themselves as the 'sons/heirs of the dragon', or 龍的傳人 / 龙的传人 lóng de chuánrén), which also fits in with Riddle's narrative.

    The Vietnamese translation interprets the concept of 'heir' more narrowly. The term it uses is người kế vị, meaning a person (người) who is in line of succession to the throne. Kế vị, corresponding to the Chinese characters 繼位, relates to succession to a position (vị ). While Slytherin was not a king in a formal sense, there is no doubt that Riddle (who later called himself Lord Voldemort) considered Slytherin the leader of the aristocratic, righteous anti-Muggle forces. This translation thus presents Riddle's perception of his own superiority and his pursuit of power.

    The Mongolian translators use the word залгамжлагч zalgamjlagch, meaning 'successor, heir, inheritor', from the verb залгамжлах zalgamjlakh 'to succeed, follow in succession, inherit', which is in turn derived from залгамж zalgamj 'succession, continuation, continuity', and ultimately from the verb залгах zalgakh 'to connect, link, join, extend, couple, attach'. Leaving aside the very different derivational processes of Mongolian, the sense of the word залгамжлагч zalgamjlagch covers both inheritance of property and the inheritance and carrying on of the work, merits, and achievements of an earlier person. It thus resembles the Chinese and Japanese translations in capturing the broader sense of 'heir'.

Slytherin

Slytherin is rendered phonetically or written in alphabetic letters. The consonant cluster 'sl' is missing or in restricted use in all four languages. The Chinese and Japanese names are both forced to break 'sl' into two syllables.

    The Mainland version uses 斯莱特林 Sīláitèlín, interpreting the pronunciation of the first syllable as 'sly'. The translator may have connected the meaning to 'sly' rather than to 'slither'. The four characters are used for their phonetic value and their meaning is irrelevant.

    The Taiwanese translator uses 史萊哲林 Shǐláizhélín, which is much further removed from the pronunciation of Slytherin's name in English. The characters chosen, meaning 'history + pigweed + philosophy + forest', may have been chosen for their meaning but do not appear to have any deep significance.

    Japanese スリザリン Surizarin follows the English pronunciation but is forced to split 'sl' into two syllables.

    Vietnamese uses the English spelling Slytherin. At a footnote in the original instalments (but not the later books) the pronunciation is given as Xờ-li-thơ-rin, again splitting 'sl' into two syllables.

    Mongolian spells Slytherin as Слизерин Slizerin, using the Cyrillic alphabet borrowed from Russian. Mongolian does have the combination 'sl' but it is only found in the middle of words. Сл sl in initial position is found only in foreign words and is likely to be pronounced сэл sel by Mongolian speakers.

(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 16
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