Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation

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Brief Notes on Word Order
in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese


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


In considering the Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese versions of Harry Potter, there are some differences in word order that need to be noted.

1. Prepositions. Prepositions or their equivalents come before the noun in English, Chinese, and Vietnamese, but after the noun in Japanese. An example:

(Note: other particles, such as the subject marker ga, the object marker o, and the possessive marker no also come after the noun in Japanese.)


2. Adjectives and possessive expressions come before the noun in English, Chinese, and Japanese, but after the noun in Vietnamese. An example:


3. The general word order in English, Chinese, and Vietnamese is Subject-Verb-Object (SVO). In Japanese it is SOV - i.e., the verb comes at the end of the sentence. An example:


4. Relative clauses (i.e., short sentences modifying nouns) come after the noun in English and Vietnamese, but before the noun in Japanese and Chinese. An example:

5. All three languages have parts of speech known as 'classifiers', 'counters', or 'measure words'. These are like the 'loaf', 'cake', and 'head' in expressions like 'a loaf of bread', 'a cake of soap', 'three head of cattle', but are used much more extensively than in English. Virtually every noun can take a counter in CJV. They are most prevalent in Vietnamese but are also widely used in Chinese and Japanese, especially when counting things. To take an example that translates easily into English (note the word order):


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