Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


Chapter 21: The House-Elf Liberation Front


Simplified Chinese (China)
Jiāyǎng xiǎo-jīnglíng jiěfàng zhènxiàn
家养 jiāyǎng = 'house-kept' ( jiā = 'house', yǎng = 'to keep, raise').
小精灵 xiǎo-jīnglíng = 'little spirit' = 'elf'.
解放 jiěfàng = 'liberation'.
阵线 zhènxiàn = 'battle line' = 'front'
The house elf liberation front
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)
Jiātíng xiǎo-jīnglíng jiěfàng zhènxiàn
家庭 jiātíng = 'household'.
小精靈 xiǎo-jīnglíng = 'little spirit' = 'elf'.
解放 jiěfàng = 'liberation'.
陳線 zhènxiàn = 'battle line' = 'front'
The household elf liberation front
Yashiki shimobe yōsei kaihō zensen
屋敷 yashiki = 'mansion, residence'.
しもべ shimobe = 'servant, menial'.
妖精 yōsei = 'fairy, elf'.
解放 kaihō = 'liberation'.
前線 zensen = 'front line' = 'front'.
Mansion servant elf liberation front
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Mặt trận giải phóng gia tinh mặt trận = 'front, battle front'.
(mặt = 'face', trận () = 'battle').
giải phóng (解放) = 'liberation'.
gia () = 'household'.
tinh () = 'spirit, elf'.
House elf liberation front

The language here is that of militant revolution or rebellion, beloved of leftists everywhere. Leftism is an area of highly-internationalised vocabulary.

Liberation: 'Liberation' uses the same Chinese-based term in all three languages, namely 解放 (jiěfàng, kaihō, giải phóng).

Front: 'Front', on the other hand, varies from language to language, although the meaning, a military front line, remains the same.

House elf: 'House elf' is a made-up word, obviously modelled on 'house servant'. The word for 'elf' differs from language to language, but in all cases involves the character (jīng, sei, or tinh), which refers to a 'spirit' or 'sprite'.

'House' is also rendered variously, ranging from the simple gia ('household') of the Vietnamese to the 家庭 jiātíng ('household') of the Taiwanese and 家养 jiāyǎng ('house-kept') of the Mainland version. The Japanese is more explicit, making it clear that these 'house elves' are servants working for well-off people living in mansions (屋敷しもべ yashiki shimobe, 'mansion servants'). The words 屋敷しもべ yashiki shimobe have an old-fashioned feeling reminiscent of the nobility (or samurai) of an earlier era.

(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 20
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