Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation
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Chapter 18: Birthday Surprises

 

Chinese (Mainland)
生日的意外
Shēngrì de yìwài
生日 shēngrì = 'birthday'.
de = connecting particle
意外 yìwài = 'surprise, accident, mishap'.
Birthday surprise/mishap
Chinese (Taiwan)
意外的生日禮
Yìwài de shēngrì-lǐ
意外 yìwài = 'unexpected, accidental'.
de = connecting particle
生日 shēngrì = 'birthday'.
= ‘present'
The unexpected birthday present(s)
Japanese
たまげた誕生日
Tamageta tanjō-bi
たまげた tamageta = 'astonishing, startling, appalling'. (Past tense of たまげる tamageru. The function of the past tense here is to modify the following noun, not to indicate past tense.)
誕生日 tanjō-bi = 'birthday'.
The startling birthday
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Những bất ngờ sinh nhật những = plural marker
bất ngờ = 'unexpected, sudden, unprepared'.
sinh nhật (生日) = 'birthday'.
Some birthday surprises

A birthday surprise in English is normally something pleasant, like a surprise party thrown by your friends. In this case, Rowling is being a little ironic because the surprises that befall Ron on his birthday are anything but pleasant -- chocolates with love potion in them and a poisoned drink.

The Chinese translator does not attempt to pretend that the 'surprises' are pleasant. The word 意外 yìwài can mean something unforeseen or unexpected -- in other words, a 'surprise' -- but it also has the meaning of 'mishap, accident'. Chinese readers are thus somewhat better forewarned.

The Taiwanese translator specifically refers to unexpected presents ( ), which are the 'surprises' being referred to.

The Japanese translator does not attempt to refer to a 'surprise' in any form, instead using the word たまげた tamageta to indicate a startling or appalling birthday.

The Vietnamese translator refers literally to 'birthday surprises' or 'surprises of the birthhday'.

(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 17
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