Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Book Title in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese

 

(For the romanisation of Chinese and Japanese, see Transliteration. To understand the writing systems of CJV, see Writing Systems. For word order notes, see Word Order)

Where a Vietnamese word has been borrowed from Chinese, the original Chinese character is shown in parentheses.

 

Chinese (Mainland) 哈利・波特与“混血王子”
Hālì Bōtè yǔ "Hùnxuè Wángzi"
哈利・波特 Hālì Bōtè = a phonetic transcription of Harry's name.
= 'and' in written Chinese.
混血 hùnxuè = 'mixed blood'.
王子 wángzi = 'prince'.
Harry Potter and the "Mixed-blood Prince"
Chinese (Taiwan) 哈利波特 混血王子的背叛
Hālì Pōtè: Hùnxuè Wángzi de Bèipán
哈利波特 Hālì Pōtè = a phonetic transcription of Harry's name.
混血 hùnxuè = 'mixed blood'.
王子 wángzi = 'prince'.
de = connecting particle
背叛 bèipán = 'betrayal'.
Harry Potter: The Betrayal of the Mixed-blood Prince
Japanese ハリー・ポッターと謎のプリンス
Harii Pottā to nazo no Purinsu
ハリー・ポッター Harii Pottā = 'Harry Potter'.
to = 'and'.
nazo = 'riddle, mystery'.
no = connecting particle
プリンス Purinsu = 'Prince' (from English)
Harry Potter and the Enigmatic Prince
Vietnamese Harry Potter và Hoàng Tử Lai Harry Potter = "Harry Potter'.
= 'and'.
hoàng tử (皇子) = 'prince'.
lai = 'half blood, mixed blood'.
Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince

The Mainland Chinese version places the words 'Half-blood Prince' in inverted commas, presumably to indicate that this is a nickname.

As in previous books, the Taiwanese version adds an extra term to jazz up the title somewhat. In this case the added term refers to the 背叛 bèipán ('betrayal') of the half-blood prince.

The Japanese translation is called ハリー・ポッターと謎のプリンス Harii Pottā to nazo no Purinsu 'Harry Potter and the Mysterious Prince'. Socially, 'purity of blood' is a delicate topic that is normally avoided in polite conversation in Japan. There are few words that express the concept of mixed blood in neutral terms. The most straightforward translation, 混血 konketsu 'mixed blood', does not have particularly good connotations. In order to overcome these, the Japanese language has even turned to the English word 'half', or ハーフ hāfu, to express the meaning of mixed blood. ハーフ hāfu has, however, gradually taken on its own specific connotations that are not necessarily appropriate in a book title such as this. It is thus understandable that the translator might wish to come up with a more acceptable expression, which she has in the form of 謎の nazo no 'mysterious, riddle'. (See also Chapter 9, The Half-blood Prince.)

'Prince' is a problem for all the translators because it conceals a vital clue that is revealed only in the last chapter, and worse still it is based on an untranslatable pun. While 'prince' is normally a royal title referring to male members of the royal family (specifically sons of the king) or the ruler of a principality, we eventually find out that Snape's mother had the surname 'Prince'. Snape obviously used this nickname because it referred to his mother, a full-blooded witch, and also gave him pretensions of 'nobility'.

All of the translators except the Japanese use the ordinary equivalent for 'prince', namely 王子 wángzǐ in Chinese and hoàng tử in Vietnamese. The pun has to be explained when Hermione first raises it at Chapter 25. The Mainland translator does so with a footnote explaining that "In English, the common noun 'prince' (王子 wángzi) and the proper noun 'Prince' (普林斯 Pǔlínsī) are both 'prince'". The Taiwanese translation does so somewhat more subtly by using Hermione's statement at Chapter 25:

This is modified to:

A similar device is used by the Vietnamese translator:

Only the Japanese translator uses the English word 'prince' in the title, transliterated as プリンス purinsu. The translator is saved by the fact that English words have entered Japanese so freely. While using the loanword プリンス purinsu in preference to 王子 ōji or other native equivalents is somewhat forced, and the pun with the surname 'Prince' therefore isn't quite as much a revelation as it is in English, the translator is nevertheless able to preserve the play on words in a way that is denied the Chinese and Vietnamese translators, whose languages are not so prone to direct borrowing from English.

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