Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation
The Translation of 'Owl' in Harry Potter

 

Barn Owl

 

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

 

Rowling loves barn owls, referring to them 15 times in all. Members of the barn owls are found in all Far Eastern countries.

The Barn Owl itself (Tyto alba) is found in parts of China only, where it is officially called the 仓鸮 cāng-xiāo, quite literally the 'barn owl'.

The most common type of barn owl in the Far East is a species that has variously been identified as Tyto capensis (the Cape Barn Owl) and Tyto longimembris (the Grass Owl or Eastern Grass Owl). The difference in scientific identification doesn't affect the official names.

BARN OWL
 
English
China
Taiwan
Japan
Vietnam
OFFICIAL NAME (General name for Barn Owls) Barn Owls
Barn Owl:
仓鸮
cāng-xiāo
'barn owl'
Cape Barn Owl or Eastern Grass Owl:
草鸮
cǎo-xiāo
'grass owl'
Cape Barn Owl or Eastern Grass Owl:
草鴞
cǎo-xiāo
'grass owl'
Barn Owls in general:
メンフクロウ
men-fukurō
'masked owl'
Barn Owls in general:
cú lợn
'pig owl'
The Barn Owl as translated in the Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese versions of Harry Potter
Bk 1 Ch 5: 'Diagon Alley'
(Eeylops)
Barn 草枭
cǎo-xiāo
'grass owl'
草鴞
cǎo-xiāo

'grass owl' (official name)
めんふくろう
men-fukurō
'masked owl' (official name for Barn Owls)
Barn
(pronunciation: Ban)
Bk 1 Ch 9:
'The Midnight Duel'
barn owl 猫头鹰
māotóuyīng
'owl'
草鴞
cǎo-xiāo
'grass owl' (official name)
めんふくろう
men-fukurō
'masked owl' (official name for Barn Owls)
con cú
'owl'
Bk 2 Ch 2:
'Dobby's Warning'
barn owl 猫头鹰
māotóuyīng
'owl'
猴面鴞
hóu-miàn-xiāo
'monkey-faced owl'
(dialect)
ふくろう
fukurō
'owl'
con cú
'owl'
Bk 3 Ch 14:
'Snape's Grudge'
barn owl 谷仓猫头鹰
gǔcāng māotóuyīng
'barn owl'
(not a species name, means 'owl in a barn' or 'owl from a barn')
猴面鴞
hóu-miàn-xiāo
'monkey-faced owl'
(dialect)
めんふくろう
men-fukurō
'masked owl' (official name for Barn Owls)
con cú vườn
'garden owl' (?)
Bk 4 Ch 15:
'Beauxbatons and Durmstrang'
barn owl 谷仓猫头鹰
gǔcāng māotóuyīng
'barn owl'
(not a species name, means 'owl in a barn' or 'owl from a barn')
草鴞
cǎo-xiāo
'grass owl' (official name)
メンフクロウ
men-fukurō
'masked owl' (official name for Barn Owls)
con chim lợn
'pig bird' = a term for 'barn owl'.
Bk 4 Ch 18:
'The Weighing of the Wands'
barn owl 谷仓猫头鹰
gǔcāng māotóuyīng
'barn owl'
(not a species name, means 'owl in a barn' or 'owl from a barn')
猴面鴞
hóu-miàn-xiāo
'monkey-faced owl'
(dialect)
メンフクロウ
men-fukurō
'masked owl' (official name for Barn Owls)
con cú
'owl'
Bk 4 Ch 18:
'The Weighing of the Wands'
barn owl 谷仓猫头鹰
gǔcāng māotóuyīng
'barn owl'
(not a species name, means 'owl in a barn' or 'owl from a barn')
猴面鴞
hóu-miàn-xiāo
'monkey-faced owl'
(dialect)
メンフクロウ
men-fukurō
'masked owl' (official name for Barn Owls)
con cú
'owl'
Bk 4 Ch 28:
'The Madness of Mr Crouch'
barn owl 谷仓猫头鹰
gǔcāng māotóuyīng
'barn owl'
(not a species name, means 'owl in a barn' or 'owl from a barn')
草鴞
cǎo-xiāo
'grass owl' (official name)
メンフクロウ
men-fukurō
'masked owl' (official name for Barn Owls)
con chim heo
'pig bird' (southern dialect variation on con chim lợn)
Bk 4 Ch 29:
'The Dream'
barn owl 猫头鹰
māotóuyīng
'owl'
貓頭鷹
māotóuyīng
'owl'
メンフクロウ
men-fukurō
'masked owl' (official name for Barn Owls)
con cú heo
'pig bird' (southern dialect variation on con chim lợn 'pig bird')
Bk 4 Ch 29:
'The Dream' (second occurrence)
barn owl 猫头鹰
māotóuyīng
'owl'
草鴞
cǎo-xiāo

'grass owl' (official name)
ふくろう
fukurō
'owl'
con cú heo
'pig bird' (southern dialect variation on con chim lợn 'pig bird')
Bk 5 Ch 2:
'A Peck of Owls'
barn owl 谷仓猫头鹰
gǔcāng māotóuyīng
'barn owl'
(not a species name, means 'owl in a barn' or 'owl from a barn')
草鴞
cǎo-xiāo

'grass owl' (official name)
メンフクロウ
men-fukurō
'masked owl' (official name for Barn Owls)
con cú trại
'farm owl'
Bk 5 Ch 12:
'Professor Umbridge'
barn owl 谷仓猫头鹰
gǔcāng māotóuyīng
'barn owl'
(not a species name, means 'owl in a barn' or 'owl from a barn')
草鴞
cǎo-xiāo

'grass owl' (official name)
メンフクロウ
men-fukurō
'masked owl' (official name for Barn Owls)
con cú
'owl'
Bk 5 Ch 14:
'Percy and Padfoot'
barn owls 谷仓猫头鹰
gǔcāng māotóuyīng
'barn owl'
(not a species name, means 'owl in a barn' or 'owl from a barn')
草鴞
cǎo-xiāo

'grass owl' (official name)
メンフクロウ
men-fukurō
'masked owl' (official name for Barn Owls)
con cú
'owl'
Bk 5 Ch 14:
'Percy and Padfoot'
barn owls 谷仓猫头鹰
gǔcāng māotóuyīng
'barn owl'
(not a species name, means 'owl in a barn' or 'owl from a barn')
草鴞
cǎo-xiāo

'grass owl' (official name)
ふくろう
fukurō
'owl'
con cú
'owl'
Bk 5 Ch 14:
'Percy and Padfoot'
barn owls 谷仓猫头鹰
gǔcāng māotóuyīng
'barn owl'
(not a species name, means 'owl in a barn' or 'owl from a barn')
草鴞
cǎo-xiāo

'grass owl' (official name)
メンフクロウ
men-fukurō
'masked owl' (official name for Barn Owls)
con cú lợn
'pig owl' = 'barn owl'

Taiwanese version:

    In the Eeylops signboard, the Taiwanese translator uses the official scientific name for the Cape Barn Owl/Grass Owl. This name is also used at 'Hallowe'en' in Book 1.

    For some reason, she switches to 猴面鴞 hóu-miàn-xiāo ('monkey-faced owl') in Books 2 and 3. This appears to be related to the word 猴面鷹 hóu-miàn-yīng ('monkey-faced eagle'), which is the name of the 'Cape Barn Owl/Grass Owl' in the local Taiwanese dialect (and probably in other dialects, especially in the south).

    In Book 4 the Taiwanese translator alternates between the official name and 猴面鴞 hóu-miàn-xiāo ('monkey-faced owl').

The Japanese version:

    The Japanese translator consistently uses the term for Barn Owls, except at 'Dobby's Warning' (Book 2) and an occurrence at Book 4 Ch 29 where the ordinary word for 'owl' is used. The Japanese translator uses hiragana at Books 1 and 3, switching to katakana at Book 4. Katakana is standard for animal and plant names in scientific usage.

The Mainland Chinese version has severe problems with consistency:

    After using the official name of the Cape Barn Owl/Grass Owl at the Eeylops signboard, the translators elsewhere use the ordinary word for 'owl' in Books 1 and 2 and at 'The Dream' in Book 4.

    In Books 3, 4, and 5, they switch to 谷仓猫头鹰 gǔcāng māotóuyīng 'barn owl'. This is not the name of an owl species - it simply means 'an owl from a barn'!

    This erratic and inaccurate usage suggests problems in maintaining consistency among translators and time pressures in completing the translation.

The Vietnamese version also has problems with consistency:

    At the Eeylops signboard, the Vietnamese version uses the English word Barn.

    At Book 1 'Hallowe'en' and again at several places in Books 2 and 4, it simply uses the ordinary word for 'owl', without specifying a type.

    In Book 3 Ch 14 ('Snape's Grudge'), it uses an expression that appears to mean 'garden owl'. At Book 5 Ch 2 ('A Peck of Owls'), it uses the expression con cú trại, presumably meaning 'farm owl'

    At other places, however, various terms actually referring to the barn owl are used. At 'Beauxbatons and Durmstrang' in Book 4, the translator uses con chim lợn ( 'pig bird'), which means 'barn owl'. Later on, she uses con cú heo or con chim heo, Southern dialect words meaning 'pig bird' or 'pig owl'. These are both acceptable alternative names for the barn owl.

 

arrow up