Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation

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Names of Harry's Schoolmates 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 names of students at Hogwarts are not exactly exciting, but kind of interesting, nonetheless. Most reasonably common English names have standard transliterations in Chinese, which may, however, vary between the Mainland and Taiwan. In most cases the translators follow the standard transliteration, although the Taiwanese translator definitely appears to take a freer approach. Names in this list go as far as Marcus Flint, arranged in order of frequency of appearance in the first four books.

SCHOOLMATES
English
Mainland
Taiwan
Notes
Harry Potter 哈利・波特
Hālì Bōtè
哈利波特
Hālì Pōtè or
Hālì Bōtè
Harry has the same name in both versions. Note that:
1) The standard transliteration for 'Harry' in Mainland China is 哈理 Hālǐ, not 哈利 Hālì. The use of 哈利 here may be due to Taiwanese influence.
2) The standard characters for 'Potter' meaning 'wave' + 'special' are used for their pronunciation. Although written the same, the normal pronunciation in Taiwan is Hālì Pōtè while on the Mainland it is Hālì Bōtè . Why? Because Taiwanese Mandarin recognises two readings for 'wave', and . On the Mainland, the reading has been abolished in an effort to tidy up the language. (My thanks to Chin Pu for this observation.)
Ron Weasley 罗恩・韦斯莱
Luó'ēn Wéisīlái
榮恩・衛斯理
Róng'ēn Wèisīlǐ
For 'Ron', the Taiwanese translator chooses a name that is appealing in Chinese, even if the sound is somewhat different from English. Róng means 'glory' (it is also a Chinese surname) and ēn means 'endowment, benefit'. The Mainland translator uses the standard Mainland transliteration of 'Ron' using Luó, also a Chinese surname, instead of Róng. Note: the first character in Weasley, Wéi or Wèi, is also a Chinese surname.
Hermione Granger 赫敏・格兰杰
Hèmǐn Gélánjié
妙麗・格蘭傑
Miàolì Gélánjié
In the Taiwanese version, 妙麗 Miàolì, means 'good' and 'beautiful'. The pronunciation is possibly based on the second half of the name, i.e., 'mione'. The Mainland version comes up with a much better rendering: is a Chinese surname, mǐn means 'quick/agile'. This could easily be a real Chinese name. Note: Gélánjié is the same in both editions, although this is not obvious because the Mainland characters are drastically simplified.
Draco Malfoy 德拉科・马尔福
Délākē Mǎ'ěrfú
跩哥・馬份
Zhuǎi-gē Mǎ-fèn
Malfoy's name is vital in setting the tone. The Mainland transliteration is fairly conventional, using favourable characters such as , meaning 'virtue', and , meaning 'happiness/fortune'. means 'horse'.

The Taiwanese version is more creative. zhuǎi refers to the ways of a person who feels himself a cut above everyone else and looks down on ordinary people (跩文 zhuǎi-wén is an expression referring to high-falutin' prose). 跩哥 Zhuǎi-gē thus means 'arrogant big brother'. 馬份 Mǎ-fèn means 'horse part'. (Using different characters, it could also mean 'horse manure', although in the movie, interestingly, the pronunciation is changed to Má-fěn).

Phonetically, the Taiwanese version's zhuǎi (or in local Taiwanese pronunciation zuǎi) for the 'dray' sound of 'Draco' is actually quite similar to the pronunciation of 'dr' in English -- much closer than the textbookish Mainland délā.
Fred Weasley 弗雷德・韦斯莱
Fúléidé Wéisīlái
弗雷・衛斯理
Fúléi Wèisīlǐ
弗雷德 Fúléidé is standard for 'Fred', but the Taiwanese translator leaves off the . This way, both the twins, Fred and George, have two-character names.
Cedric Diggory 塞德里克・迪戈里
Sàidélkè Dìgēlǐ
西追・迪哥里
Xīzhuī Dìgēlǐ
Although looking pretty rough, the Taiwanese transliteration 西追 Xīzhuī is probably just as close to the English sound as 塞德里克 Sàidélǐkè.
Neville Longbottom 纳威・隆巴顿
Nàwēi Lóngbādùn
奈威・隆巴頓
Nàiwēi Lóngbādùn
Strictly phonetic. (The normal transliteration of 'Neville' is actually 内维尔 Nèiwéi'ěr).
George Weasley 乔治・韦斯莱
Qiáozhì Wéisīlái
喬治・衛斯理
Qiáozhì Wèisīlǐ
喬治 / 乔治 Qiáozhì for 'George' is a standard and very well known English name.
Percy Weasley 珀西・韦斯莱
Pò-xī Wéisīlái
派西・衛斯理
Pái Wèisīlǐ
珀西 Pòxī and 派西 Pàixī are both acceptable transliterations of 'Percy'. 珀西 Pòxī is standard on the Mainland.
Oliver Wood 奥利弗・伍德
Aòlìfú Wǔdé
澳利佛・木透
Aòlìfó Mùtòu
Gryffindor's Quidditch captain. The Mainland translator goes exactly by the book. 奥利弗 Aòlìfú is the standard transliteration for 'Oliver'; 伍德 Wǔdé is standard for 'Wood'.

The Taiwanese translator uses the name 木透 Mùtòu. Why? Because when Harry hears Prof McGonagall mention the word 'wood', he thinks he's about to get the cane. To accommodate this pun in the text, the Taiwanese translator calls Wood 木透 Mùtòu, which sounds very similar to the Chinese word for 'wood' (木頭 mùtou).
Ginny Weasley 金妮・韦斯莱
Jīnnī Wéisīlái
金妮・衛斯理
Jīnnī Wèisīlǐ
The jīn in 'Ginny' means 'gold', means 'girl' or 'lass'.
Gregory Goyle 高尔
Gāo'ěr
高爾
Gāo'ěr
Gāo means 'high, tall'.
Vincent Crabbe 克拉布
Kèlābù
克拉
Kèlā
Although not highly relevant here, 克拉 kèlā actually means 'carat'. The Taiwanese version achieves a kind of symmetry by giving both Goyle and Crabbe two-character names.
Seamus Finnegan 西莫・斐尼甘
Xīmò Fěinígān
西莫・斐尼干
Xīmò Fěinígān
Strictly phonetic. Almost identical in the two versions.
Colin Creevey 科林・克里维
Kēlín Kèlǐwéi
柯林・克利維
Kēlín Kèlìwéi
Kēlín is standard for 'Colin'.
Dean Thomas 迪安・托马斯
Dì-ān Tuōmǎsī
丁・湯馬斯
Dīng Tāngmǎsī
Taiwan and the Mainland have different standard transliterations for the name 'Thomas', as shown here.
Parvati Patil 帕瓦蒂・帕蒂尔
Pāwádì Pàdì'ěr
芭蒂
Bādì
An Indian name. No standard transliteration.
Cho Chang 张秋
Zhāng Qiū (Book 4)
秋・张
Qiū Zhāng (Book 5)
張秋
Zhāng Qiū
There has been a lot of speculation about Cho Chang's name, much of it based on the assumption that J.K. Rowling knows what Cho Chang means as a Chinese or Korean name. In fact, the Chinese translators would have had to work from the opposite assumption: Here we have what purports to be an Oriental or Chinese name, how are we going to make it into a real Chinese name?

First, the translators assume that Cho Chang should be put back into Chinese order, with family name first, i.e. 'Chang Cho'. (In Book 5, however, the Mainland translators have a change of heart and put Cho's name in the English order as 秋・张).

For 'Chang', both Mainland and Chinese translations choose the common Chinese surname Zhāng, often written 'Chang' by Taiwanese and overseas Chinese, who do not use the pin'yin romanisation.

The given name 'Cho' has to be guessed at. The sound 'cho' doesn't occur in pin'yin, but is the Wade-Giles equivalent to pin'yin zhuo or chuo. (Chuo is normally written 'ch'o' in Wade-Giles, but the apostrophe representing aspiration is often left out, especially by foreigners who don't know why it's there). Neither of these sounds is associated with particularly attractive names in Chinese. It looks like the translators have gone through the whole range of possible phonetic equivalents of 'cho', from chou, zhou, zhe, che, qiu to jiu. They finally chose qiū, meaning 'autumn', as an attractive-sounding girl's name. What is curious is that both translations opt for the same character where so many other possibilities are available. Coincidence?

The other alternative is that Cho Chang is Korean. It is entirely possible that this was Rowling's intention, but does not appear to have figured in the translators' choice of character -- the character 'autumn' is pronounced 'chu' in Korean, not 'cho'.

Luna Lovegood 卢娜・洛夫古德
Lúnà Luòfūgǔdé
露娜・羅古德
Lùnà Luógǔdé

'Luna Lovegood' is transcribed phonetically in both Chinese and Taiwanese versions. The last character in 'Luna' is used in girls' names in Chinese. The last character in 'Lovegood', meaning 'virtue', is often used in transcribing names. The Taiwanese is slightly less elaborate phonetically than the Mainland version.

Lavender Brown 拉文德・布朗
Lāwéndé Bùlǎng
文妲・布朗
Wéndá Bùlǎng
布朗 Bù-lǎng is standard and well known for 'Brown'. 'Lavender' is transliterated normally in the Mainland version, somewhat more flexibly in the Taiwanese.
Lee Jordan 李・乔丹
Lǐ Qiáodān
李・喬丹
Lǐ Qiáodān
is a Chinese family name. 乔丹 / 喬丹 Qiáodān is standard for 'Jordan'. Lǐ Qiáodān vaguely sounds like a Chinese guy who calls himself by the English name of Jordan Lee!
Justin Finch-Fletchley 贾斯廷・芬列里
Jiǎsītíng Fēnlièlǐ
賈斯汀・方―列里
Jiǎsītīng Fāng-Lièlǐ
'Justin' (Mainland version) is standard. The double-barrelled 'Finch-Fletchley' would be extremely long in Chinese; both translators shorten it.
Marcus Flint 马库斯・弗林特
Mǎkùsī Fúlíntè
馬科・福林
Mǎkē Fúlín
The Slytherin Quidditch captain. The Mainland translator goes exactly by the book: 马库斯 Mǎkùsī is standard for 'Marcus'; 弗林特 Fúlíntè is standard for 'Flint'. The Taiwanese translator errs on the side of brevity. 馬科 Mǎkē is a possible transliteration of 'Mark'. 福林 Fúlín leaves off the final 't' sound. Shaving off two characters makes the name shorter and easier to remember.

 

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