Chapter 13: Detention with Dolores

Simplified Chinese (Mandarin: China)
Bèi Duōluòléisī guān jìnbī
bèi = passive marker
多洛雷斯 Duōluòléisī = 'Dolores (phonetic)'.
guān = 'shut'.
禁闭 jìnbī = 'confinement'.
Put in confinement by Dolores
Traditional Chinese (Mandarin: Taiwan)
Xiě de láodòng fúwù
xiě = 'blood'.
de = connecting particle
勞動 láodòng = 'labour'.
服務 fúwù = 'service'.
Bloody labour service
Anburijji no akudoi bassoku
アンブリッジ Anburijji = 'Umbridge (phonetic)'.
no = connecting particle
あくどい akudoi = 'vicious, nasty'.
罰則 bassoku = 'penalty'.
Umbridge's vicious penalty
돌로레스의 나머지 공부
Dolloleseu-ui nameoji gongbu
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Cấm túc với Dolores cấm túc = 'detention'.
với = 'with'.
Dolores = 'Dolores' (to be pronounced Đô-lo-r).
Detention with Dolores
Mongolian (new)
Долоресын шийтгэл
Doloresin shiitgel


The use of names in English can be subtle and complicated. Usage varies from place to place and context to context. An understanding of the cultural and linguistic background is important.

In my understanding, at least, students in Britain refer to their teachers respectfully by their surnames, with title ('Professor Snape' or 'Mr Snape'). This is inevitably shortened to 'Snape' behind the teacher's back. Fellow teachers are likely to be on a first-name basis, a sign of work-place familiarity. The same teacher might be 'Professor Snape' or 'Snape' to his students and 'Severus' to his colleagues.

In many schools, especially in public schools, there is a tradition of addressing students by their surnames. Harry is addressed as 'Potter' by Snape, by the insufferable types in Slytherin, and by the strict Professor McGonagall. On the other hand, Harry's friends call him 'Harry', as do Dumbledore, Hagrid, Lockhart, and Lupin.

This kind of variation in the English can cause problems for the translator:

In general, little concession is made to these factors in the CJV translations. All tend to treat the original text as sacred and inviolable — first names are rendered as first names, last names as last names, regardless of cultural appropriateness. Readers are expected to accept this. To a considerable extent this is justified: Japanese speakers, for instance, are quite familiar with Westerners' use of first names, even if it is not acceptable in their own society.

However, certain concessions are inevitably needed. For instance, the Chinese version sometimes inserts footnotes to explain that 'xxxx' is the given name of a certain teacher (see Footnotes). In the Vietnamese version, Snape uses 'Harry' and 'Ron', not 'Potter' and 'Weasley', even when he is nastily handing out detentions. On the other hand, the Vietnamese version pays great attention to courtesy titles.

In this particular case, 'Dolores' in the title allows alliteration, as in 'Detention with Dolores'. It also conveys a certain cheeky familiarity, the kind that school children would not dare openly express to their teachers but are happy to display behind their backs. 'Professor Umbridge' invests Dolores Umbridge with the dignity of her status. 'Dolores' is familiar, leaving her no title or status to hide behind.

The Mainland and Vietnamese translators choose the direct translation approach. 'Dolores' in Chinese is 多洛雷斯 Duōluòléisī. The characters themselves do not mean a great deal: 'much' + name of ancient capital city + 'thunder' + phonetic 's'. Technically this direct-translation approach cannot be faulted (who could fault a faithful rendering?), but it is rather like a joke that has lost its punch line — since there is no alliteration in the Chinese or Vietnamese, there is no real reason to use 'Dolores'.

By contrast, the Japanese quite rightly uses 'Umbridge', without the sensei ('Professor'). The Japanese translation cuts to the point of the whole chapter by referring to the viciousness of the punishment she hands out.

In a similar vein, the Taiwanese version comes up with a totally new title, dispensing with 'Dolores' and describing the detention as 'bloody', which is what it was.


The translation of 'detention' is of some interest. The Mainland version uses the military term 禁闭 jìnbī ('confinement'). This is, strictly speaking, unsuitable for a school context. In some other books, notably Book 2 and Book 4, 'detention' is variously translated as 罚留校 fá liúxiào ('penalise stay in school'), 罚留校劳动 fá liúxiào láodòng ('penalise stay-in-school labour'), or simply 留下来 liú-xià-lái ('be kept behind'). The failure to harmonise is one of the perils of using multiple translators.

The Taiwanese translation, on the other hand, consistently uses 勞動服務 láodòng fúwù ('labour service') throughout all five books. The Vietnamese translator also sticks to one translation, cấm túc, throughout the five books.

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

Chapter 12
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