Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


Chapter 4: The Leaky Cauldron


Simplified Chinese (China)
Pòfǔ jiǔbā
= 'broken, damaged, worn out, dilapidated'.
= 'cauldron' (old).
酒吧 jiǔbā = 'bar'.
The broken cauldron bar
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)
Pòfǔ jiǔbā
= 'broken, damaged, worn out, dilapidated'.
= 'cauldron' (old).
酒吧 jiǔ-bā = 'bar'.
The broken cauldron bar
漏れ more- = 'leaky' (moreru = 'to leak').
nabe = 'pot, pan'.
The leaky pot
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Quán Cái Vạc Lủng quán = 'inn'
cái = a counter or classifier for objects.
vạc = 'cauldron, pot'.
lủng = 'pierced through with holes'.
The holey cauldron inn

All versions translate the meaning, 'Leaky Cauldron' rather than transcribing the sound.

'Leaky Cauldron'

    The Chinese versions use the very common term meaning 'broken, shabby, decrepit' along with the old word , which conveys the old-fashioned flavour of the English word 'cauldron'. In fact, the expression 破釜 has been borrowed from the Chinese proverb 破釜沉舟 pò-fǔ chén-zhōu, which has the meaning 'break the cauldrons and sink the boats' - in other words, 'to burn one's boats' or 'burn one's bridges'. This dates back to a story from 207 B.C.

      Xiang Yu was deputy commander of a rebel army fighting against the faltering Qin dynasty. The rebels were camped near a river waiting to attack the Qin army. Fearing defeat at the hands of the well-trained imperial troops, the commander-in-chief of the rebel army persistently held off from battle for a month and a half. As morale declined among the men, Xiang Yu decided that his only option was to kill his wavering superior and take the troops across the river, where he ordered them to sink their boats and break their cooking pots. With their way back cut off, the rebel army fought valiantly and won a great victory.

    Needless to say, this story doesn't have much to do with Harry Potter's Leaky Cauldron; it is simply a ready-made, familiar expression that the translators have used.

    The Japanese translation uses 漏れ鍋 more-nabe, a compound expression composed of 漏れる moreru 'to leak' and nabe meaning 'pot'.

    'Leaky Cauldron' is translated into Vietnamese as vạc lủng ('holey cauldron') at this chapter. Back in Book One, where the Leaky Cauldron first appeared, the translator used the English name Leaky Cauldron, with the suggested pronunciation Lit-ky Côn-rơn.


    In the Chinese version, the Leaky Cauldron is called a 酒吧 jiǔbā (literally 'liquor bar'), which is not quite accurate. Pubs in the UK not only serve liquor but may also offer accommodation, as in the case of the Leaky Cauldron. The word 酒吧 jiǔbā ( is from English 'bar') is purely a place for drinking, so the Chinese versions effectively have young Harry spend a week in a bar!

    The Japanese translator doesn't bother to explain at this point that the 'Leaky Cauldron' is a pub, although in the text of the chapter she uses the English word 'pub', written パブ pabu. This is also not ideal because pabu in Japan is now just another word for 'bar' -- there are lots of establishments calling themselves pabu in Japan that are nothing like real English pubs. The problem, of course, is that it is hard to find an appropriate word to render the word 'inn'. Japanese-style words run the risk of conjuring up images of traditional ryokan. Borrowings from English, on the other hand, tend to lose the quaint connotations of the word 'inn'.

    The Vietnamese uses the term quán meaning 'inn', which is more appropriate than a bar.

(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 3
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