Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation

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The Names of Gadgets and Objects in Harry Potter
Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese Translation

 

Gubraithian Fire

 

Chinese (Mainland) 古卜莱仙火
Gǔbǔláixiān huǒ
古卜莱仙 Gǔbǔláixiān = 'Gubraithian'. (Phonetic in function but with the following meanings: = old, = divination, = celestial, fairy, immortal.)
huǒ = 'fire'.
Gubraithian fire (Gubulai immortal/fairy/celestial fire)
Chinese (Taiwan) 不滅火
Bú-miè-huǒ
= 'not'.
miè = 'go out, be extinguished'.
huǒ = 'fire'.
Undying fire
Japanese グブレイシアンの火
Gubureishian no hi
グブレイシアン Gubureishian = 'Gubraithian (phonetic)'.
no = connecting particle
hi = 'fire'.
Fire of Gubraithian
Vietnamese Lửa Gubraithian
Lửa = 'fire'.
Gubraithian = 'Gubraithian'.
Gubraithian fire
(Where a Vietnamese word has been borrowed from Chinese, the original Chinese character is shown in parentheses.)

A branch of Gubraithian fire is a peace offering Dumbledore prepared for Hagrid and Olympe to give to the Gurg of the giants (Book 5, chapter 20, Hagrid's Tale). Gubraithian fire is an everlasting fire.

'Gubraithian' is not a word from Classical tradition; it appears to be from Celtic Gu braith meaning 'long depend on', 'long live', or 'forever' (see this site and this forum).

The Japanese translator appears to have been confused by the name ('Fire of Gubraithia? Fire of 'Gubraith'?). She has translitered the pronunciation directly from English, which yields the awkward 'Fire of Gubraithian'. A less anglicised version might have been, for instance, グブライスの火 Guburaisu no hi 'fire of Gubraith', depending on the original Celtic pronunciation. The Vietnamese translation also adopts the English word unchanged.

By contrast, the Mainland Chinese version is quite a creditable effort. Gǔbǔláixiān is phonetic but several characters have meaning: = old, = divination, = celestial, fairy, immortal. In Chinese, this name could be interpreted as gǔbǔlái xiān-huǒ Gubulai Celestial/Fairy/Immortal Fire.

The Taiwanese version avoids all these problems by translating Gubraithian fire as 'undying fire'. This is a fairly sensible solution -- there is no real need to burden the reader with obscure and incomprehensible English terms -- but does detract from Harry and Ron's puzzled response ('A branch of --?') and Hermione's explanation, 'Everlasting fire'. (In the Taiwanese translation, 'Everlasting fire' becomes 永遠不會熄滅的火啦! yǒngyuǎn bú huì xīmiè de huǒ la! 'Fire that will never go out!')

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