Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


Chapter 31: OWLs


Simplified Chinese (China)
O.W.Ls kǎoshì
O.W.Ls = 'O.W.Ls'.
考试 kǎoshì = 'exam'.
O.W.Ls exam
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)
Pǔ Děng Wū Cè
= 普通 pǔtōng = 'ordinary'.
děng = 等級 = děngjí = 'level'.
= 巫師 = wūshù = 'wizardry'.
= 測驗 = cè-yàn = 'test, exam'.
Ord. Lev. Wiz. Test
ふ・く・ろ・う Fu-ku-ro-u = 'O-W-L'. O-W-L
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Pháp sư Thường đẳng pháp sư (法師) = 'magician, sorceror'.
thường () = 'ordinary'.
đẳng = 'class, rank'.
Ordinary Class Wizard

The name of the 'Ordinary Wizarding Levels' exam. For a detailed treatment of how this exam is translated at other places, see Owls and Newts.

Here the Chinese translator simply gives the English name 'O.W.Ls' followed by the Chinese word for 'exam', not indicating the pun and hidden meaning i.e. 'owls'.

The Taiwanese version comes up with a different way of translating 'O.W.L.s' from that used in the previous books, which generally contained the term 普通巫術等級 Pǔtōng Wūshù Děngjí (Ordinary Wizardry Level). Here the translator uses 普等巫測 Pǔ-děng Wū-cè, a Chinese-style abbreviation which is arguably closer to the spirit of the English (in that it is an abbreviation). However, there is no semblance of a pun on 'owls'.

The Japanese uses the word fukurō in hiragana, separated by 'dots' (kuromaru). This achieves a similar visual effect to the English but is quite different from the way the exam is translated at other places.

The Vietnamese translator is notorious for coming up with a new translation for O.W.L.s every time the word appears, and true to form the version here is again different from translations used earlier.

(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 30
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