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

 

A Compendium of Common Curses and their Counter-Actions

 

Chinese (Mainland) 普通咒语及解招
Pǔtōng zhòuyǔ jí jiězhāo
普通 pǔtōng = 'ordinary, common'.
咒语 zhòuyǔ = 'spell, curse'.
= 'and'.
解招 jiězhāo = 'to remove/undo trick'.
Ordinary curses and curse removal
Chinese (Taiwan) 一般咒語及其反制術概要
Yībān zhòuyǔ jí qí fǎnzhì-shù gàiyào
一般 yībān = 'ordinary'
咒語 zhòuyǔ = 'spell, curse'
= 'and'.
= 'their, its'.
反制術 fǎnzhì-shù = 'counter control technique'.
概要 gàiyào = 'essentials, outline'.
Outline of ordinary curses and their counter-acting techniques
Japanese 通常の呪いとその逆呪い概論
Tsūjō no noroi to sono gyaku-noroi gairon
通常 tsūjō = 'ordinary, common, usual'.
no = connecting particle
呪い noroi = 'curse'.
to = 'and'.
その sono = 'their, its'.
逆呪い gyaku-noroi = 'counter-curse' (made-up word).
概論 gairon = 'outline, introduction'.
General introduction to ordinary curses and their counter-curses
Vietnamese Trích Yểu Những Lời Nguyền Thông Thường Và Tác Dụng Phản Công Của Chúng trích yểu (摘要) = 'summary, outline'.
những = plural marker
lời nguyền = 'vow, oath, jinx, curse'.
thông thường (通常) = 'ordinary, common, usual'.
= 'and'.
tác dụng (作用) = 'action, operation, effect'.
phản công (反攻) = 'counter-offensive, counter-attack'.
của = connecting particle (possessive)
chúng = 'they, them'.
Summary of ordinary curses and their counter-offensive actions

Almost every word is an occasion for divergent translation. The Mainland translator is remarkable for the succinctness which she brings to the title by omitting unnecessary elements.

Compendium

A compendium is a brief summary of a larger work or field of knowledge. It is translated as 概要 gàiyào ('essentials, outline') by the Taiwanese translator, 概論 gairon ('outline, introduction') by the Japanese translator, and trích yểu (摘要 'summary, outline') by the Vietnamese translator. All of these words are available (with different pronunciations, of course) in the three languages and it is interesting that a different choice has been made in each translation. The Mainland translator leaves the word out altogether.

Common

This is another case where a choice of vocabulary is involved. (English similarly offers a range of vocabulary, including 'ordinary, common, usual, normal', etc.) However, there are subtle differences among the equivalents in the three languages that could become the subject of a paper in themselves. Here the words chosen by the translators are: Mainland 普通 pǔtōng ('ordinary, common'), Taiwan 一般 yībān ('general, ordinary'), Japanese 通常 tsūjō ('ordinary, common, usual'), and Vietnamese thông thường (= 通常 'ordinary, common, usual').

Counter-Actions

'Counter-Actions' as used here refers to a way of making ineffective, restraining, or neutralising the ill-effects of a curse. Presumably a 'counter-action' is a counter-curse, although it is theoretically possible to counter a curse without resorting to another curse.

    The Chinese translator uses 解招 jiě-zhāo. jiě means 'to resolve', zhāo is a word describing a 'trick, device, or move'. A 解招 jiě-zhāo is thus a way of countering a ruse or stratagem employed by others. It can also be used more generally for solving challenging difficulties and not merely for ruses.

    The Taiwanese translator struggles somewhat with the explanatory 反制術 fǎn-zhì-shù 'counter-control/counter-restraint techniques'. Adding shù ('technique, art') is necessary to make the meaning clearer.

    The Japanese translator coins a new word, 逆呪い gyaku-noroi 'reverse-curse'.

    The Vietnamese translator expands on the English with tác dụng phản công, meaning 'counter-offensive/counter-attacking action'. The effect is clear but rather wordy. The final của chúng ('of them') tends towards translationese.

Category: Spells and Charms (Educational and Academic)

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