Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
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・波特与死亡圣器
Hālì Bōtè yǔ Sǐwáng Shèngqì
哈利・波特 Hālì Bōtè = a phonetic transcription of Harry's name.
= 'and' in written Chinese.
死亡 sǐwáng = 'death'.
圣器 shèngqì = 'sacred implement, sacred article'.
Harry Potter and the Sacred Implements of Death
Chinese (Taiwan) 哈利波特 死神的聖物
Hālì Pōtè: Sǐshén de Shèngwù
哈利波特 Hālì Pōtè = a phonetic transcription of Harry's name.
死神 sǐshén = 'god of death'.
de = connecting particle
聖物 shèngwù = 'sacred article, sacred item'.
Harry Potter: The Sacred Articles of the Death God
Japanese ハリー・ポッターと死の秘宝
Harii Pottā to Shi no Hihō
ハリー・ポッター Harii Pottā = "Harry Potter"
to = 'and'.
shi = 'death'.

秘宝 hihō = 'treasure, hidden jewel'.
Harry Potter and the Treasure of Death
Vietnamese Harry Potter và bảo bối tử thần Harry Potter = 'Harry Potter'.
= 'and'.
bảo bối (寶貝) = 'valuable object'.
tử thần (死神) = 'death god'.
Harry Potter and the Valuable Objects of the Death God

The Deathly Hallows were three objects granted by Death to the Peverell brothers: the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Invisibility Cloak. The story of the Deathly Hallows is told in The Tale of the Three Brothers.

Deathly

In The Story of the Three Brothers, the Mainland Chinese, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese translators personify Death as the 'god of death' or a 'death god'. This is 死神 Sǐshén in Chinese and tử thần in Vietnamese. It appears that the only way that death can be treated as a living, talking person is to translate it in such a way. (The Japanese translation is not yet known).

When it comes to translating the word 'deathly', both the Taiwanese and Vietnamese translators use the word for 'god of death'. That is, the 'hallows' are treated as pertaining to, or having been granted by, the god of death (死神 Sǐshén or tử thần).

On the other hand, the Mainland Chinese and Japanese translators treat 'deathly' as pertaining to the abstract concept of 'death', not to death personified. In specific terms, the Mainland Chinese version uses 死亡 sǐwáng, which is a verb and a noun meaning 'to die' or 'death'. The (tentative) Japanese translation uses the word shi, which is a noun meaning 'death', related to the verb 死ぬ shinu 'to die'.

Needless to say, the semantics of a word like 'death', whether in English or in other languages, is anything but simple. As a noun, 'death' may refer to the act or process of dying, or it may refer to the state of being dead. Either way, it is rather more abstract in nature than the verb 'to die'. Using the noun 'death' in the title makes the meaning somewhat harder to pin down than using death as a personification.

Hallows

The word 'hallows' is a rare one, and Rowling's usage of it is even rarer. As we saw, it relates to three magical objects granted by Death to the three brothers.

The Mainland and Taiwanese translators both use the character shèng ( in simplified form), which means 'sacred' or 'holy'. The Taiwanese translator uses the term 聖物 shèngwù, 'sacred article, sacred item'. The character refers to things, articles, or objects. The Mainland translation uses the similar 圣器 shèngqì, meaning 'sacred/holy instrument, utensil, tool, or implement'. By using the character , 'utensil, tool, implement', attention is focused on the utilitarian nature of the Deathly Hallows.

In the Japanese and Vietnamese translations, the concept of holiness or sacredness is played down. Japanese uses the term 秘宝 hihō, meaning 'treasure, hidden jewel'. This emphasises the valuable nature of the hallows, and the fact that they are 'secret' or 'hidden' ( hi) objects treasured by their owners. In the Vietnamese translation, the sacred, holy, or special nature of the 'hallows' is lost even further through the use of the word bảo bối, which simply means 'precious / valuable object'.

See also Chapter 22.

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