With J. K. Rowling’s final instalment of the Harry Potter books coming out in cinemas soon, a blog post about how other countries have learnt about this brilliant saga is long overdue! The best selling series of books has been translated into at least 64 different languages, including Latin and Ancient Greek.
With so many new and invented words, translators had a hard time making the book as magical for their own nation as it has been for us!
Lord Voldemort, meaning ‘flight of death’ in French, has been difficult to translate as his real name – Tom Marvolo Riddle – forms an anagram of ‘I am Lord Voldemort’. This means his name had to change with the language.
In Icelandic, he is called Trevor Delgome; he became Tom Gus Mervolo Dolder in Swedish which is an anagram of ‘ego sum Lord Voldemort’ – that’s Latin, not Swedish! And my personal favourite is the French, where He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named goes by the name of Tom Elvis Jedusor.
Many of the spells in the books come from Latin words, and usually we British can get the basic gist of them. For example, from the word Expelliarmus we could take out the words ‘expel’ and ‘armed’ or ‘armour’ to figure out that this spell disarms somebody.
However, for languages that don’t stem from Latin, other methods were used to create the same effect. In the Hindi version, translators used words that derived from Sanskrit to invent the spells.
As well as the authorised translations, other illegal, amateur translations have been made – in China in particular. Among these was a version completely different to the genuine books. It was called Harry Potter and Leopard Walk up to Dragon. In this book, Harry becomes a fat, hairy dwarf, is stripped of all his magical powers and is made to fight a dragon that embodies all the world’s evil!
Maybe we should just stick to the films for now…
Guest article by Annie Smith.
15 July 2010 11:17