Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


Chapter 2: Aunt Marge's Big Mistake


Simplified Chinese (China)
Mǎjī gūmā de dà-cuò-wù
玛姬 Mǎjī = 'Marge'.
姑妈 gūmā = 'father's (married) sister' = 'aunt'.
de = connecting particle
= 'big'.
错误 cuòwù = 'mistake, blunder'.
Aunt Marge's big mistake
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)
Mǎjī gūgū fàn dà-cuò
瑪姬 Mǎjī = 'Marge'.
姑姑 gūgū = 'father's sister' = 'aunt'.
fàn = 'commit'.
大錯 dà-cuò = 'big mistake'.
Aunt Marge makes a big mistake
Māji oba-san no dai-shippai
マージ Māji = 'Marge'.
おばさん oba-san = 'aunt'.
の no = connecting particle
dai- = 'big'.
失敗 shippai = 'big mistake, big blunder'.
Aunt Marge's big mistake
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Sai lầm lớn của dì Marge sai lầm = 'mistake, blunder'.
lớn = 'big'.
của = 'of'
= 'aunt' (strictly means mother's younger sister).
Marge (pronunciation footnote: Mạc).
Aunt Marge's big mistake


Chinese kinship terms are more complicated than English, placing particular emphasis on the male line (there are different words for relatives on the father's and mother's side) and age (e.g., different words are used for older and younger brothers and sisters). The Chinese words for 'aunt', 姑妈 gūmā, or 姑姑 gūgū, specifically indicate that Aunt Marge is Harry's aunt on his 'father's' side (from the point of view of Harry as Vernon Dursley's 'son'). A different word would be used if Aunt Marge were Petunia's sister. The term 姑妈 gūmā would usually be applied to an aunt who was older than Vernon. (Although the age relationship is not clear from the English text, the author has made it clear in personal correspondence with the Japanese translator that Vernon is, in fact, Marge's elder brother.)

Note: There is a site called Mandarin Tools which will automatically generate the appropriate Chinese word for a specified relative, e.g., father's younger brother's daughter -- See Chinese Reference Tools: Family Relationships. Results are shown in Chinese characters.

The Vietnamese uses a term for 'aunt' that normally refers to one's mother's younger sister, although it appears to be used as a general term for 'aunt' in this case.


The Japanese translator uses the word 失敗 shippai, which means 'failure' or 'blunder'. This word is frequently used in Japanese for even relatively small errors in judgement. On the other hand, the Chinese word 失敗 / 失败 shībài means 'defeat' or 'failure' - see Chapter 9 ('Grim Defeat') below. This is a case of a 'false friend' - a word that looks like it should have the same meaning but doesn't. It's not uncommon for Chinese speakers to misuse this word when speaking Japanese, and vice versa.

(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 1
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