Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation

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Harry Potter:
Mistranslations in the Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese versions


Spells for dealing with restless and fidgety animals (?!) (Mainland Chinese version)


Readers of The Goblet of Fire come across several books of magic targeted at specific readers. One of these is Basic Hexes for the Busy and Vexed, which is aimed at busy or vexed wizards. Presumably it is aimed at wizards who don't have the time to spend on elaborate traditional spells that require a lot of preparation and effort. The title echoes more mundane book names like Basic Recipes for Those On The Go .

The Chinese translator translates this title as 对付多动和烦躁动物的基本魔咒 Duìfú duōdòng hé fánzào dòngwù de jīběn mózhòu, meaning Spells for dealing with restless and fidgety animals. The mystery here is how she managed to arrive at such an interpretation.

The keys to the problem are:

(1) The meaning of the preposition 'for'
(2) The meaning of 'the busy and vexed'

This mistake points up the need for real-world experience in English in order to be a good translator. While I do not personally know the translator and there are obvious dangers in generalising, it is still the case with many scholars of English in China that their book knowledge is much superior to their grasp of English as actually used in English-speaking countries.

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