Chapter 2: The Vanishing Glass

Simplified Chinese (Mandarin: China)
Qiāoqiāo xiāoshī de bōli
悄悄 qiāoqiāo = 'quietly'.
消失 xiāoshī = 'to vanish'.
de = connecting particle
玻璃 bōli = 'glass'.
The Glass that Quietly Vanished
Traditional Chinese (Mandarin: Taiwan)
Xiāoshī de bōli
消失 xiāoshī = 'to vanish'.
de = connecting particle
玻璃 bōli = 'glass'.
The Glass that Vanished
Kieta garasu
消える kieru 'vanish, disappear'
( -ta = Past tense).
ガラス garasu = 'glass' (as a substance).
The Glass that Vanished
사라진 유리창
Salajin yuli-chang
사라지다 salajida = 'vanish, disappear'
(-ㄴ -n Past attributive).
유리 (琉璃) yuli = 'glass'.
() chang = 'window'.
The Glass Window that Vanished
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Tấm kính biến mất tấm 'pane' (counter for glass, mirrors, etc.)
kính () = 'glass, glasses'.
biến mất = 'vanish'.
The Glass that Vanished/The Glass Vanishes
Mongolian (previous)
Шил алга болов
Shil alag bolov
шил shil = 'glass'.
алга alag = 'not there'.
болох bolokh 'become'
( -v = recent past tense form).
The Glass Disappeared
Mongolian (new)
Алга болсон шил
Alag bolson shil
алга alag = 'not there'.
болох bolokh 'become'
(-сон -son = Past tense).
шил shil = 'glass'.
The Glass that Disappeared

The 'vanishing glass' refers, of course, to the pane of glass in front of the boa constrictor's enclosure at the zoo, which vanished mysteriously when Dudley knocked Harry out of the way to have a look.

This chapter title looks like a fairly straightforward expression, but English is a tricksy language with more meanings than first meet the eye.

How is 'glass' translated?

The English doesn't make it clear whether it was a pane of glass, a glass container, or even an eye-glass that vanished — it could easily have been a glass of water that disappeared from a table, for instance. Most of the translations make it clear that glass (a pane of glass) and not a glass (drinking glass) is meant.

Interestingly, the words for 'glass' are foreign loanwords in all of these languages, but from different sources.

How is 'vanishing' translated?

Grammatically, 'vanishing' is a present participle. This doesn't tell us much because present participles (verb + -ing) are used for lots of different purposes in English. Rowling loves them and they are an inseparable part of her style.

Here, 'vanishing' is used to describe the word 'glass'. It has two possible interpretations:

(1) Present or habitual action: glass that vanishes (e.g., a kind of trick or magical glass that has the property of vanishing if you try and touch it). English has lots of expressions like this, e.g., a flying plane, running water, and The Whomping Willow, which 'whomps' you if you go near it.

(2) Past event or action: glass that vanished. This is typically used in titles of books, for instance, a mystery story about 'the case of the vanishing glass'.

Here the correct meaning is the second one. All of our translators, having obviously read the chapter, come up with the correct interpretation.

Most use a clause ('which vanished') to describe 'glass'. In English, this is called a 'relative clause' and usually features a 'relative pronoun' (here it is 'which'). But unlike English, none of the languages here requires a relative pronoun. (See Chapter One.)

The previous Mongolian translation adopts a different tack, remodelling the title into a straightforward statement that 'glass disappeared' (шил алга болов shil alag bolov).

Mongolianshilalag bol-ov

As with the Korean past-tense form -ㄴ -n, which can't be used to end a sentence, there is a partial split in Mongolian between verbs used in adjectival clauses and verbs used at the end of the sentence. The verb ending -ов -ov, indicating recent past, is the opposite of the Korean example and can only be used at the end of sentences. It differs from the general past-tense form -сон -son, which can appear at both places.

Making the title into a sentence ('The Glass Vanishes'), as in the older Mongolian translation, and potentially in the Vietnamese, makes no difference to the message conveyed by the chapter title. Titles like 'the vanishing glass' are a customary convention in English. Even in English it's possible to use a full sentence for a chapter title, as in 'Padfoot Returns' -- although the style will depend on the message that is meant to be conveyed.

(Korean appears thanks to "Hiro".)

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

Chapter 1
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