The Invisible Book of Invisibility

Simplified Chinese (Mandarin: China)
Yǐnxíng-shù de yǐnxíng-shū
隐形 yǐnxíng = 'hide form' = 'invisible'.
-shù = 'art, skill, technique'.
de = connecting particle
隐形 yǐnxíng = 'hide form' = 'invisible'.
shū = 'book'.
The Invisible Book of the Art of Invisibility
Traditional Chinese (Mandarin: Taiwan)
Yǐnxíng de yǐnxíng-shū
隱形 yǐnxíng = 'hide form' = 'invisible'.
de = connecting particle
隱形 yǐnxíng = 'hide form' = 'invisible'.
shū = 'book'.
The Invisible Invisible Book (or 'Invisible Invisibility Book')
Tōmei-jutsu no tōmei-bon
透明 tōmei = 'transparent, clear'.
-jutsu = 'art, skill, technique'.
no = connecting particle
透明 tōmei = 'transparent, clear'.
hon (-bon) = 'book'.
The Invisible Book of the Art of Invisibility
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Ẩn Thư Về Tàng Hình ẩn thư (隱書) = 'concealed book'.
về = 'concerning'.
tàng hình (藏形) = 'hide form' = 'making oneself invisible'.
The Concealed Book About Becoming Invisible

One of Rowling's more humorous names. Where else but in Harry's world would a book on invisibility be itself invisible? And of course, nobody, least of all the bookseller, could ever find them!


The word for 'invisibility' is rather interesting here. Both Chinese and Vietnamese use concepts related to hiding or concealment rather than simple 'invisibility'.

Japanese is the exception: 'invisible' is rendered as 透明 tōmei, which means 'transparent', 'clear', or 'see-through'.

'The Invisible Man':

The Chinese and Japanese translators have followed the lead of the famous 'Invisible Man' of H. G. Wells (later made into a movie). The Invisible Man is known as 隱形人 / 隐形人 yǐnxíng-rén 'conceal-shape person' in Chinese and 透明人間 tōmei ningen 'transparent person' in Japanese.

(In fact, the 'Invisible Man' is more commonly translated as 隐身人 yǐnshēn-rén 'conceal-body person' on the Mainland, referring to a similar concept of stealth and concealment, but 隐形人 yǐnxíng-rén is also used.)

However, the Vietnamese book title is not modelled on the 'Invisible Man', which is usually Người Vô Hình in Vietnam. The term vô hình literally means 'without form' and can be translated as 'invisible, immaterial, intangible, formless, amorphous'. (Vô hình is related to the Chinese word 無形 / 无形 wúxíng 'no form', also meaning 'invisible').

(See also the Invisibility Cloak)

Category: Transfiguration and Invisibility

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