Chapter 1: The Worst Birthday

Simplified Chinese (Mandarin: China)
Zuì zāogāo de shēngrì
zuì = 'most'.
糟糕 zāogāo = 'terrible'.
de = connecting particle
生日 shēngrì = 'birthday'.
The Most Terrible Birthday
Traditional Chinese (Mandarin: Taiwan)
Zuì cǎn de shēngrì
zuì = 'most'.
cǎn = 'miserable'.
de = connecting particle
生日 shēngrì = 'birthday'.
The Most Miserable Birthday
Sai-aku no tanjō-bi
最悪 sai-aku = 'worst'.
no = connecting particle
誕生日 tanjō-bi = 'birthday'.
The Worst Birthday
최악의 생일
Choe-ag-uin saeng-il
도비 choe-ag = 'worst'.
ui = connecting particle.
생일 (生日) saeng-il = 'birthday'.
The Worst Birthday
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Sinh nhật buồn nhứt sinh nhật (生日) = 'birthday'.
buồn = 'sad, lonely'.
nhứt = 'most' (dialect).
The Saddest/ Loneliest Birthday
Mongolian (previous)
Адгийн төрсөн өдөр
Adgiin törsön ödör
адаг adag = 'last, worst, of the lowest quality' (-ийн -iin Genitive form).
төрсөн өдөр törsön ödör = 'birthday'.
(Literally төрөх törökh 'was born (-сөн -sön past tense)' + өдөр ödör 'day'.)
The Worst Birthday
Mongolian (new)
Хамгийн онцгүй төрсөн өдөр
Khamgiin öntsgüi törsön ödör
хамгийн khamgiin = 'most'.
онцгүй öntsgüi = 'not special'.
төрсөн өдөр törsön ödör = 'birthday'.
(Literally төрөх törökh 'was born (-сөн -sön past tense)' + өдөр ödör 'day'.)
The Most Unspecial Birthday

This is Harry's miserable birthday at the Dursleys. Not only is his birthday completely ignored by the whole family, he is also confined to his own room while they entertain an important client.

How is 'the worst' translated?

The Chinese, Japanese, and Korean translators use a popular everyday word that corresponds to English 'worst', as in 'Man, it was the worst!'. 糟糕 zāogāo, cǎn, and 最悪 sai-aku, 최악 (最惡) choe-ag are all slightly slangy expressions used to describe distressing (although not necessarily 'tragic') situations.

The Mongolian translators opt for two different solutions. The older translation uses адгийн adgiin 'worst'. The more recent translation uses хамгийн онцгүй 'most unspecial', where онцгүй ontsgüi is a modern term formed as a negative of онц 'special, unusual, particular'.

How is 'birthday' translated?

The word for 'birthday' is the same in the Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese translations: 生日 shēngrì; 생일 (生日) saeng-il; sinh nhật.

The Japanese word is the slightly different 誕生日 tanjō-bi.

Mongolian uses төрсөн өдөр törsön ödör meaning 'born-day'.

(Korean appears thanks to "Hiro".)

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

Book Title
Back to Top