Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation

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Names of Critters & Pets in the Chinese Translations of Harry Potter

 

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

 

 

The difference between the Mainland and Taiwanese versions seems to be this: Where it is possible to create a Chinese word that conveys the meaning of the English name, the Taiwanese translator does it. The Mainland translators generally stick to a phonetic transliteration. The Taiwanese translator also tends to prefer shorter names. In several places, the Taiwanese translator is influenced by the southern or Taiwanese pronunciation of Chinese in transliterating names into Chinese.

 

MAGICAL CRITTERS
English
Mainland
Taiwan
Notes
Norbert 诺伯
Nuòbó
蘿蔔
Luóbo
Norbert, the Norwegian ridgeback: The Mainland name is purely phonetic. 蘿蔔 Luóbo in the Taiwanese version means 'radish' and has a rather humorous flavour. In Taiwan and some regions of Mainland China, the 'n' and 'l' sounds are not properly distinguished, which may be why Luóbo was chosen as an acceptable approximation to 'Norbert'.
Fluffy 路威
Lùwēi
毛毛
Máomáo
Fluffy, the three-headed dog: 路威 Lùwēi in the Mainland version means 'road' + 'authority/threat'. I haven't yet figured out the reason for this name - perhaps his role as a watchdog? 毛毛 Máomáo is a direct translation of the English and means 'hairy' or 'downy'.
Buckbeak 巴克比克
Bākèbǐkè
巴嘴
Bā-zuǐ
Buckbeak the Hippogriff: The Mainland version transliterates the sound, producing a nice beat with the repeated character . In the Taiwanese version, 'buck' is transliterated as a sound ( ), 'beak' is translated as zuǐ ('mouth' or 'beak').
Fawkes 福克斯
Fúkèsī
佛客使
Fókèshǐ
Fawkes the Phoenix: The Mainland version uses the standard transliteration for the name 'Fawkes'. The Taiwanese version makes up its own transliteration using characters that literally mean 'Buddha' + 'guest/practitioner' + 使 'envoy'. The last character, 使 shǐ, is pronounced in Taiwan or South China, bringing it somewhat closer to the English pronunciation than it actually looks.

In England, 'Fawkes' is likely to call to mind Guy Fawkes, who tried to blow up Parliament in 1602, celebrated in Bonfire Night (hence the name, since Fawkes the phoenix makes a habit of being immolated in fires). Guy Fawkes' name in Chinese is generally rendered 蓋‧福克斯 Gài Fúkèsī or 盖‧福克斯 Gài Fúkèsī. However, only the most erudite Chinese is likely to draw a connection between the two.
Aragog 阿拉戈克
Ālāgēkè
阿辣哥
Ā-là-gē
Aragog the Acromantula (giant spider): The Mainland version is purely phonetic. In the Taiwanese version, Aragog's name is not only shorter, but has the meaning 'Mr-spicy-big brother', making it easier to remember. ( Ā doesn't actually mean 'Mr'; it's a prefix added onto names in south China to give a certain sense of familiarity.)
Nagini 纳吉尼
Nàjíní
娜吉妮
Nàjínī
Nagini, Voldemort's pet snake: Phonetic rendering (Chinese is unable to render hard 'g', so Nagini becomes 'Najini'.)

 

PETS
English
Mainland
Taiwan
Notes
Mrs Norris 洛丽丝夫人
Luòlìsī fūrén
拿樂絲太太
Nálèsī tàitài
'Mrs Norris', Filch's cat: A strange case where the Mainland version is neither phonetically correct nor particularly full of meaning. Luò is a Chinese surname, means 'pretty', and means 'silk thread'. The Taiwanese version 拿樂絲 literally means 'get' + 'pleasure' + 'thread'. 夫人 fūrén and 太太 tàitài mean 'Mrs'.
Hedwig 海德薇
Hǎidéwēi
嘿美
Hēiměi
Harry's owl Hedwig: In the Mainland version the name is phonetic. The characters 海德薇 mean 'sea' + 'virtue' + 'a kind of vegetable'. Northern Chinese speakers generally perceive the English sound in 'head' as hai, which can create a distinctive accent when speaking English.

Looking at the Taiwanese version, hēi! is an exclamation of surprise or gloating. Since Hedwig is a white owl, it would not have done to use the character for 'black' , also pronounced hēi, which was the obvious choice. měi means 'beautiful'.
Pigwidgeon (Pig) 朱薇琼 (小猪)
Zhū-wēi-qióng (Xiǎo-zhū)
豬水鳧 (小豬)
Zhū-shuǐfú (Xiǎo-zhū)

Ginny named Ron's tiny owl 'Pigwidgeon', which Ron shortened to 'Pig'.

In the Mainland version, the full name given by Ginny is 朱薇琼 Zhū Wēiqióng, which could pass as a normal Chinese name. Zhū is a surname which happens to have the same pronunciation as 'pig' or zhū in Chinese. wēi means 'rose', qióng means 'fine jade', which together are meant to reproduce a sound close to 'widgeon'. In common with Chinese custom of calling a younger person xiǎo ('little') + surname, Ron calls his owl 小朱 Xiǎo Zhū. In Chinese, this is the same as 'little piggy' 小猪 xiǎo-zhū. This rendition captures rather well the way that Ron distorts Ginny's carefully thought-out name.

The Taiwanese version translates Pigwidgeon's name literally: zhū = 'pig', 水鳧 shuǐfú = 'widgeon', a kind of duck. As in the Mainland version, Ron shortens this to 小豬 xiǎo-zhū ('little pig'), but Ginny doesn't have much to protest about here because the name she chose already contained the word zhū ('pig') .

Errol 埃罗尔
Aīluó'ěr
愛落
Aìluò
Errol the owl: There's nothing wrong with the Mainland phonetic transliteration, but the Taiwanese name is just more memorable! 愛落 Aìluò means 'love to fall', which is particularly suitable for Errol.
Hermes 赫梅斯
Hèméisī
赫密士
Hèmìshì
Purely phonetic. The Mainland name 赫梅斯 Hèméisī is used to transliterate the names of football players with names like 'Hermes' or 'Jemez'. Note that the Taiwanese version 赫密士 Hèmìshì would be pronounced Hèmìsì by most Chinese speakers in Taiwan.

Neither transliteration is the same as the name of the Greek god Hermes, which is 海耳墨斯 Hǎi'ěrmósī, 海尔梅斯 Hǎi'ěrméisī, or 漢密士 Hànmìshì (Taiwan). For Greek god's names in Chinese (Taiwan), see this site.

Incidentally, the French brand Hermès is transliterated into Chinese as 爱马什 Aìmǎshì.
Crookshanks 克鲁克山
Kèlǔkèshān
歪腿
Wāi-tuǐ
Hermione's pet cat Crookshanks is transliterated as 克鲁克山 Kèlǔkèshān in the Mainland edition. As in Buckbeak's name, the repeated creates a rhythm.
The Taiwanese edition translates 'Crookshanks' quite literally as 'Crooked Legs'.
Scabbers 斑斑
Bānbān
斑斑
Bānbān
Ron's rat Scabbers: 斑斑 Bān-bān in both the Mainland and Taiwanese versions means 'spotty' or 'stripy'.
Trevor 莱福
Láifú
吹寶
Chuībǎo
Neville's toad Trevor: The Taiwanese sounds somewhat like 'Trevor' in pronunciation and means 'Blow Treasure' or 'Blowing Treasure'. bǎo ('treasure') is often used in the expression 寶貝兒 / 宝贝儿 bǎobèir ('baby' or 'precious baby') in Chinese. The Mainland version appears to have seized on the slight phonetic similarity between 'Trevor' and 莱福 Lái-fú, which is a common name for a pet in China. It means 'come good fortune'. (Thanks to Kinra for pointing me in the right direction on this one).
Fang 牙牙
Yáyá
牙牙
Yáyá
means 'tooth' or 'fang'.

 

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