Bathrobe's Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation
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Harry Potter:
Mistranslations in the Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese versions

 

What did the boa constrictor say to Harry as it left for Brazil? (Taiwanese and Chinese versions)

 

Whether you read the Taiwanese or the Mainland version of Harry Potter in Chinese, you'll have a hard time finding out what the boa constrictor actually said to Harry as it escaped from its tank in the reptile house (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 2).

In the English original, the crucial passage runs:

Harry sat up and gasped; the glass front of the boa constrictor's tank had vanished. The great snake was uncoiling itself rapidly, slithering out onto the floor. People throughout the reptile house screamed and started running for the exits.

As the snake slid swiftly past him, Harry could have sworn a low, hissing voice said, "Brazil, here I come. . . . Thanksss, amigo."

The keeper of the reptile house was in shock. "But the glass," he kept saying, "where did the glass go?"

The Taiwanese version goes:

Harry sat up and gasped in surprise. The glass in front of the boa constrictor's case had vanished. The giant snake quickly uncoiled its body and slid out onto the floor -- all the people in the reptile house screamed and ran towards the exits.

The keeper of the reptile house was in shock. "But the glass," he repeated incessantly, "where did the glass go?"

We might equally ask where the snake's speaking debut went to. This sentence is a vital clue to the origin of the menacing whisper that Harry hears in Book 2. Not being aware that Harry can hear snakes talk, Taiwanese readers miss that clue, which spoils the effect somewhat.

Turning to the Mainland edition, we find the following:

Harry sat up and gasped; the glass in front of the boa constrictor's case had vanished. The giant boa quickly uncoiled its body and slid down to the floor -- all the people in the reptile house screamed and ran towards the exits.

When the giant boa went past Harry, Harry clearly heard a hissing voice say softly: "I came here from Brazil... Thanks, I'm leaving."

The keeper of the reptile house was deeply shocked.

"But the glass", he said incessantly, "where did the glass go?"

This remarkable change of story (the snake had only just told Harry that he was born in the zoo) puts our friend the snake in a somewhat different light. At the very least, he doesn't come across as very truthful.

The upshot of all this is that roughly one quarter of mankind is denied the pleasure of knowing what the snake actually said - unless, of course, they read the English original.

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