Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation
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Names of People and Places

 

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

        Each table is comes in three forms:

        1. A full table of all four versions, without explanatory notes.

        2. The two Chinese versions (Mainland and Taiwan), including explanatory notes

        3. The Japanese and Vietnamese versions with explanatory notes (Vietnamese pronunciation based on footnotes)

 

 

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Overall appraisal of proper names in the Harry Potter books (Chinese and Japanese translation)

In general, the Mainland translation of Harry Potter gives the impression of having been written by a scholar - the names are accurate and conscientious attempts to render the English phonetically but are largely lacking in any magic or charm. In only a few cases (for instance, the name of the house 'Hufflepuff') does the translator try to make the name more interesting or accessible.

The Taiwanese translation is more successful in capturing the spirit of J. K. Rowling's book - a magical story designed to entrance and entertain both adults and children. Perhaps realising that readers will judge the book on its readability in Chinese, the translator has tried to make the names fit in with the book and its atmosphere. Names are shorter, more easily remembered, and more meaningful than in the Mainland version. Above all, the Taiwanese names are simply more fun than the Mainland names.

In the Japanese version, apart from transliterating names directly into katakana, the author has obviously not felt the need to creatively adapt English names for young Japanese readers. This reflects the huge familiarity that Japanese readers feel with English words. The appeal of the Japanese translation lies elsewhere than in the transliteration of the names.

Links: To check out the meanings and origins of names in 'Harry Potter' in English, see Harry Potter Word Origins and What's in a Name?

General notes on the handling of foreign names

 

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