Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore



Chinese (Mainland)
Ābùsī Dèngbùlìduō de shēngpíng hé huǎngyán
阿不思・邓布利多 Ābùsī Dèngbùlìduō = 'Albus Dumbledore'.
de = connecting particle
生平 shéngpíng = 'brief biographical sketch'.
谎言 huǎngyán = 'lie'.
The life story and lies of Albus Dumbledore
Chinese (Taiwan)
Dèngbùlìduō de rénshēng yǔ huǎngyán
鄧不利多 Dèngbùlìduō = 'Dumbledore'.
de = connecting particle
人生 rénshēng = 'life (of a person)'.
= 'and' (written).
謊言 huǎngyán = 'lie'.
The life and lies of Dumbledore
Arubasu Danburudoa no masshiro na jinsei to makka na uso
アルバス・ダンブルドア Arubasu Danburudoa = 'Albus Dumbledore'.
no = connecting particle
真っ白な masshiro na = 'pure white'.
人生 jinsei = 'life'.
to = 'and'.
真っ赤な makka = 'pure red' = 'blatant'.
uso = 'lie'.
The blameless life and blatant lies of Albus Dumbledore
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Chuyện Đời và Chuyện Xạo của Albus Dumbledore chuyện đời = 'life'.
= 'and'.
chuyện xạo = 'unreliable story'.
của = 'of'.
Albus Dumbledore = 'Albus Dumbledore'.
The life and lies of Albus Dumbledore

This book by Rita Skeeter shows Rita at her best, distorting facts to produce a completely unflattering portrait of an otherwise blameless or respected person. What gives this title its bite is the juxtaposition of two similar-sounding words, 'life' and 'lies'. The total effect is to suggest that Albus Dumbledore's life itself was a huge lie.


'Life' has a number of different meanings in English. It may refer to, among other things:

  • The state of being alive, literally or figuratively ('there was no life in him', 'life after death').
  • Living creatures ('life on Mars').
  • The manner of living ('life was good').
  • The lifespan of a person or animal ('he lived a long life').

It is the fourth meaning that is relevant here as Rita Skeeter is writing a biography, describing events during the lifespan of Albus Dumbledore. The biography of a person is frequently known in English as 'the life of' that person (e.g., Monty Python's Life of Brian).

The word used for 'life' in the Taiwanese and Japanese translations is the same, 人生 (rénshēng or jinsei), meaning the period of time lived by a person, the kind of expression suitable for TV programs with names like This is your Life. The word used in the Vietnamese translation has a similar meaning.

The Mainland translation is rather more specific, using 生平 shēngpíng, a word referring to the biographical sketch of a person's life.


'Lies' is translated quite conventionally in both Chinese translations.

The Vietnamese translation juxtaposes chuyện xạo, meaning 'unreliable stories', with chuyện đời, meaning 'life', capturing in a different but effective way the 'life / lies' pair of the English.

The most interesting translation is the Japanese, which elaborates on the original meaning in Matsuoka's trademark style. She quite cleverly uses the words 真っ白 masshiro 'pure white' and 真っ赤 makka 'pure red' to describe Dumbledore's life and lies respectively. A 'pure white' life is a blameless life. A 'pure red' lie in Japanese is a blatant lie. This juxtaposition very effectively makes explicit what is hinted at in the English, that Dumbledore's life itself was a lie. The 'pure white' of the title is completely ironic in tone, as the book suggests that Dumbledore's life was anything but blameless.

Category: Who's Who / Biography

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