Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Chapter 2: A Peck of Owls
Where a Vietnamese word has been borrowed from Chinese, the original Chinese character is shown in parentheses.
群 qún = 'crowd, bunch, group'.
猫头鹰 māotóuyīng = 'cat-headed hawk' = 'owl'.
|A bunch of owls|
= 'cat-headed hawk' = 'owl'.
大隊 dàduì = 'large body, specifically batallion, regiment, group, or brigade (depending on organisational context)'.
|A contingent of owls|
Fukurō no tsubute
|ふくろう fukurō =
の no = connecting particle
つぶて tsubute = 'throwing stones' (or stones so thrown).
|Pelted with owls|
|Vietnamese||Một bầy cú||một
= 'one, a'.
bầy = 'flock, pack'.
cú = 'owl'.
|A flock of owls|
There is no problem saying 'a flock of owls' in CJV, but the word play involved in this little slip of the tongue (Uncle Vernon meant to say 'a pack of owls' but said 'peck of owls' instead) is not so easy to reproduce. (See Wordplay: '...a peck, I mean, a pack of owls').
Alas, the 'peck of owls' must be sacrificed for the prosaic 'bunch of owls' in the Mainland Chinese version, a 'large body or contingent' of owls in the Taiwanese version, and a 'flock' or 'pack' of owls in the Vietnamese.
The Japanese translator comes up with the most ingenious translation. The word つぶて tsubute means 'throwing stones' and can also refer to the stones that are so thrown. The Japanese title thus means 'Owl stone(s)', with the implication that the owl or owls come pelting at you like stones. This is no doubt exactly how Uncle Vernon felt about the owls that kept bringing letters to Harry.