Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation
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The Titles of Magical Books in Harry Potter

 

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

 

Chinese (Mainland) 诗翁彼豆故事集
Shīwēng Bǐdòu gùshì-jí
诗翁 shīwēng = 'old poet'.
彼豆 Bǐdòu = 'Bidou'.
故事 gùshì = 'story'.
= 'collection'.
Collection of stories of the old poet Bidou
Chinese (Taiwan) 吟游詩人皮陀故事集
Yínyóu shīrén Pítuó gùshì-jí
吟游詩人 yínyóu shīrén = 'reciting-wandering poet' = 'bard'.
皮陀 Pítuó = 'dragon'.
故事 gùshì = 'story'.
= 'collection'.
Collection of stories of the minstrel Pituo
Japanese 吟遊詩人ビードルの物語
Gin'yū shijin Biidoru no monogatari
吟遊詩人 Gin'yū shijin = 'reciting-wandering poet' = 'bard'.
ビードル Biidoru = 'Beedle'.
no = connecting particle
物語 monogatari = 'story, tale'.
Stories of the minstrel Beedle
Vietnamese Những Chuyện Kể của Beedle the Bard những = plural marker
chuyện kể = 'story'.
của = 'of'.
Beedle the Bard = 'Beedle the bard '.
Stories of Beedle the bard

Tales

Translating 'tales' is not a great problem. All versions use standard equivalents to the word 'tale'. By adding , meaning 'collection', both Chinese translators make the title sound more natural in Chinese.

Beedle the Bard

The tricky part is translating 'Beedle the Bard'. As usual Rowling has conjured up a comical name for this ancient teller of children's stories, using her favourite device of alliteration to boot. 'Beedle' has echoes of the ancient English writer the Venerable Bede as well as the 20th-century Beatles.

The Chinese translators come up with two different transliterations of 'Beedle' (if they can be called transliterations). The Mainland translator uses 彼豆 Bǐdòu, which sounds vaguely comical because dòu means 'bean' (shades of 'Mr Bean') and also has the same pronunciation as dòu 'to kid, joke'. The Taiwanese translator uses 皮陀 Pítuó.

The Japanese translator uses the standard transliteration ビードル biidoru.

'Bard' is an old-fashioned word describing an ancient narrative poet. The Japanese and Taiwanese translators use a word meaning 'minstrel', of the troubador or Minnesänger type. 吟遊詩人 (Chinese yínyóu shīrén Japanese gin'yū shijin) literally means 'reciting wandering poet'. The Mainland translator uses 诗翁 shīwēng, meaning an older, better known poet.

The greatest disappointment is the Vietnamese translator, who doesn't bother to translate 'bard' at all. Instead, 'Beedle the bard' is left completely as it is, treated as a proper name, set in stone and not needing any explanation.

Category: Children's Stories

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