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

 

Great Grey Owl

 

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

 

Harry sees a 'Great Grey' at Hogsmeade post office. The Great Grey Owl, Strix nebulosa, is found in China but not in Taiwan, Japan, or Vietnam.

 

GREAT GREY OWL
 
English
China
Taiwan
Japan
Vietnam
OFFICIAL NAME Great Grey Owl
乌林鸮
wū-lín-xiāo
'black forest owl'
NOT FOUND IN TAIWAN
NOT FOUND IN JAPAN
カラフトフクロウ
Karafuto fukurō
'Sakhalin owl'
NOT FOUND IN VIETNAM
The Great Grey Owl as translated in the Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese versions of Harry Potter
Bk 3 Ch 14:
'Snape's Grudge'
Great Grey 大灰鹰
dà-huī-yīng
'great grey hawk' (looks a bit like a species of hawk but is not a real species)
(大型的)烏林鴞
(dà-xíng de) wū-lín-xiāo
(large) 'dark forest owl' = official name for Great Grey Owl
大型の灰色梟
ō-gata no hai-iro fukurō
'large grey-coloured owl' (descriptive name, not a species name)
con Xám Vĩ
'Great Grey' (literal translation of the English, the word 'owl' does not appear)

It is to the Taiwanese translator's credit that she has done her homework and uses the official name for the Great Grey Owl.

The Mainland translator makes up a completely fictitious species of hawk (a direct translation of the English).

Officially, the Great Grey Owl is Karafuto fukurō in Japanese, named after Karafuto, an island to the north of Japan usually known in English as 'Sakhalin'. This island has particular associations for the Japanese. Geographically it belongs to the Far East and not to the very British or European world in which Harry Potter is set. Historically, the island used to belong to Japan but was taken over by the Soviet Union after World War II. Because of its historical and geographical associations, the official name could sound out of place in Harry Potter. Possibly for this reason the Japanese translator chooses to do a direct translation of the name. The translated name simply means 'a big grey owl' and could by no means be interpreted as a true species name.

The Vietnamese quite literally translates the English expression 'Great Grey' into Vietnamese, capitals and all. It's not an actual species name and not even totally clear from the translation that it's a sort of owl.

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