Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


Chapter 25: The Egg and the Eye


Simplified Chinese (China)
Jīndàn hé móyǎn
jīn = 'gold'.
dàn = 'egg'.
= 'and'.
= 'magic'.
yǎn = 'eye'.
Golden egg and magic eye
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)
Jīndàn yǔ móyǎn
jīn = 'gold'.
dàn = 'egg'.
= 'and'.
= 'magic'.
yǎn = 'eye'.
Golden egg and magic eye
Tamago to medama
玉子 tamago (written 'ball + child') = 'egg'.
to = 'and'.
目玉 medama = 'eyeball'.
The egg and the eyeball
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Cái trứng và con mắt cái = counter/classifier
trứng = 'egg'.
= 'and'.
con = counter/classifier
mắt = 'eye'.
The egg and the eye

The egg is the golden egg given to the contestants as a clue for their next task. The eye is Moody's magical eye.

What makes the English title effective is the use of two short words, both beginning with 'e': 'egg' and 'eye'.

This doesn't work in Chinese. For a start, it is normal to specify in Chinese the kind of egg involved -- dàn 'egg' is not commonly found on its own. The 'egg' here obviously doesn't refer to a hen's egg (鸡蛋 jī-dàn in Chinese), it refers to a 'golden egg' (金蛋 jīndàn).

The ordinary word for 'eye' in Chinese is 眼睛 yǎnjìng, but coming after the 'golden egg', this homely word is something of a letdown, especially as Moody's eye is not a normal eye. So the translators naturally use the word 'magic eye' -- 魔眼 mó-yǎn.

The result is a very attractive Chinese title, 'Golden Egg and Magical Eye'. This is particularly attractive because it is composed of two-character compounds: 金蛋 jīndàn and 魔眼 yǎn.

The Japanese version translates the title literally but manages to make it interesting in a different way. Tamago 'egg' can be written in Japanese either as 玉子 'jade/ball + child' or 'egg'. In fact, the very first sentence of this chapter actually uses the character . However, the Japanese translator expressly uses 玉子 in the chapter title. The result is a symmetrical arrangement starting and ending with the character tama 'ball, sphere'. Coincidentally, note also the word 目玉焼き medama-yaki (literally 'eyeball-fry'), which means 'fried egg' thanks to its resemblance to an eye.

The Vietnamese also uses only the everyday words for 'egg' and 'eye'. In Vietnamese it is normal to use classifiers or measure words with these two nouns. 'Eye' and 'egg' require different classifiers.

The clue contained in the egg can be found at The Clue in the Egg (in Unicode).

(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 24
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