Chapter 1: The Boy Who Lived

Simplified Chinese (Mandarin: China)
Dànàn bù sǐ de nánhái
大难不死 dànàn bù sǐ = 'great disaster not die'.
de = connecting particle
男孩 nánhái = 'male child' (boy).
The Boy Who Did Not Die in a Disaster
Traditional Chinese (Mandarin: Taiwan)
Huó-xiàlái de nánhái
huó = 'to live'.
下來 -xiàlái = 'to come down, continue on down to the present'.
de = connecting particle
男孩 nánhái = 'male child' (boy).
The Boy Who Lived On
Ikinokotta otoko-no-ko
生き残る ikinokoru = 'survive, live' ( -ta Past tense).
(生き残る is formed from 生きる ikiru = 'live' + 残る nokoru = 'remain'.)
男の子 otoko-no-ko = 'male child' (boy).
The Boy Who Survived
살아남은 아이
Salanameun ai
살아남다 salanamda = 'survive, live through'
(-은 -eun Past attributive). (살다 salda = 'live' + 남다 namda = 'remain')
아이 ai = 'baby, child, kid'.
The Child Who Survived
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Đứa bé vẫn sống đứa bé = 'boy' (đứa = classifier for children, etc., = 'small/young').
vẫn = 'still'.
sống = 'alive'.
The Boy Who is Still Alive/The Boy is Still Alive
Mongolian (previous)
Ус уух хувьтай хүү
Us uukh khuv'tai khüü
ус us = 'water'.
уух uukh = 'drink'.
хувьтай khuv'tai = 'have a destiny'.
ус уух хувьтай us uukh khuvtai = 'survive a dangerous situation'.
хүү khüü = 'boy'.
The Boy Who Survived
Mongolian (new)
Амьд үлдсэн хүү
Am'd üldsen khüü
амьд am'd = 'alive'.
үлдэх üldekh 'remain' (Past tense).
хүү khüü = 'boy'.
The Boy Who Remained Alive

This might just be the most famous chapter title in the Harry Potter series.

How is 'lived' translated?

In 'The Boy Who Lived', the word 'lived' has a rather special meaning, different from, say, 'Trolls lived in the mountains' or 'Witches lived in the sixteenth century'. Here it means to survive an accident or disaster, as when we say 'to live to tell the tale'. All the translations reflect this meaning (although the Vietnamese rather implies that Harry is not dead yet).

How is 'boy' translated?

All but the Korean translation render 'boy' as a 'male child'. The Korean uses the neutral word 아이 ai 'baby, child, kid'.

'Who lived' (relative clause)

Ah, relative clauses! Unbeknown to many English speakers, these are among the harder things for foreign learners to master. The following will mainly be of interest to people who like to see how different languages are structured.

The English structure is as follows:

  1. The relative clause 'who lived' describes 'the boy'.
  2. 'Who' is what is known as a relative pronoun. It stands in for 'the boy' in the clause, where it serves as the subject.
  3. The verb in the clause is in the past tense ('lived').

Showing this diagrammatically:

NounRel. pron. Verb past
the boywho lived

None of the languages we cover here requires a relative pronoun. Unlike English the clause directly attaches to the noun.

In most languages of East Asia, descriptive (or 'adjectival') clauses come before the noun. The exception is Vietnamese, which places it after the noun, like English.

proverbparticle 'boy'
Chinese (Mainland)
dànàn bù sǐde nánhái

The older Mongolian translation is slightly different. Ус уух хувьтай us uukh khuv'tai 'having the fate to drink water' has the meaning 'being fated to survive'. What is special about Mongolian is that the comitative case of the noun (-tai) can act just like an adjective. It has the meaning 'having' or 'with'.

survivefut.'fate' having boy
us uukhkhuv' -tai khüü

Vietnamese puts modifiers after the noun. The modifying clause is adjectival, vẫn sống 'still alive' (vẫn 'still', sống 'alive'), which describes đứa bé 'boy'. There is no relative pronoun, which means that this is ambiguous between 'the boy who is still alive' and 'the boy is still alive'.

the boy still alive
đứa bévẫn sống

(For brief notes on grammar, see Word order and other notes.)

(Korean appears thanks to "Hiro".)

(Detailed notes on the chapter can be found at Harry Potter Lexicon)

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