Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


Chapter 9: Grim Defeat


Simplified Chinese (China)
Bùxiáng de shībài
不详 búxiàng = 'ominous, inauspicious'.
de = connecting particle
失败 shībài = 'defeat, failure'.
Ominous defeat
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)
Gǒu-líng bàituì
狗靈 gǒu-líng = 'dog spirit'.
敗退 bàituì = 'retreat in defeat'.
Dog-spirit retreat
Kyōfu no haiboku
恐怖 kyōfu = 'terror, dread'.
no = connecting particle
敗北 haiboku = 'defeat'.
Terrible defeat
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Chiến bại ác liệt chiến bại (戰敗) = 'defeat, loss'.
ác liệt (惡烈) = 'violent, fierce, bitter'.
Bitter defeat

This chapter refers to Gryffindor's defeat when Cedric Diggory grabs the snitch while Harry is under the spell of the Dementors.


The Mainland Chinese version uses 失败 shībài for 'defeat'. The Taiwanese uses 敗退 bàituì 'retreat in defeat'. The Japanese uses 敗北 haiboku. 敗北 (pronounced bàiběi) is also a formal word for 'defeat' in Chinese. (In Japanese, 失敗 shippai would not be appropriate for this title as it doesn't mean 'defeat', it means 'failure' or 'blunder' - See Chapter 2 above). The Vietnamese version uses chiến bại, a term for losses, damage, or defeat in battle.


This seemingly simple word inspires several different translations. The Mainland Chinese version takes 'grim' as meaning 'ominous' whereas the Japanese version uses an expression meaning 'terrible' or 'terrifying'. Vietnamese uses a term that means 'fierce', 'violent', or 'bitter', often used for fighting. All three are reasonable renditions.

The mystery is the Taiwanese version, which translates 'grim' as 'dog spirit'. 'Dog spirit'? The mystery is solved if you remember that Professor Trelawney saw 'the Grim' in Harry's tea leaves at Chapter 6, a 'giant, spectral dog that haunts churchyards'. The translator has connected 'grim' defeat with the appearance of an enormous shaggy black dog at the Quidditch match.

(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 8
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