Chapter 12: Magic is Might

Simplified Chinese (Mandarin: China)
Mófǎ jí qiángquán
魔法 mófǎ = 'magic'.
= 'that is, equals'.
强权 qiángquán = 'strong power, authority'.
Magic is might
Traditional Chinese (Mandarin: Taiwan)
Mófǎ jí shì lìliang
魔法 mófǎ = 'magic'.
即是 jíshì = 'that is, equals'.
力量 lìliang = 'strength'.
Magic is strength
Mahō wa chikara nari
魔法は mahō wa = 'magic + topic particle'.
chikara = 'strength, power'.
なり nari = 'to be' — classical form.
Magic is strength
Vietnamese (Chinese characters show etymology)
Pháp thuật là quyền lực pháp thuật (法術) = 'magic'.
= 'is'. (forms predicates)
quyền lực (權力) = 'power, authority'.
Magic is power/authority

Might is Right

The title echoes the expression 'Might is right', which implies that what religious or other doctrines might define as 'right' on ethical or moral grounds is irrelevant. 'Right' is determined solely by military power.

The standard Chinese equivalent to 'might is right' is 強權即公理 / 强权即公理 Qiángquán jí gōnglǐ 'Might is right'. This is a direct translation — presumably from the 19th or early 20th centuries — of the English expression. In order to give the aphorism a suitably solemn tone, erudite Chinese of the time resorted to the resources of literary Chinese. The form is a literary form used to equate two things and is more elegant than the alternative version using 就是 jiù shì ('is'). 'Might' is translated as 強權 / 强权 qiángquán or 'powerful authority', 'strong power'. / carries overtones of unrighteous force or tyrrany. 'Right' is translated as 公理 gōnglǐ or 'justice'.

The Mainland translation (but not the Taiwanese translation) of the chapter title is quite clearly based on this conventional translation of 'might is right'.

The conventional Japanese translation of 'might is right' is 力は正義なり chikara wa seigi nari, roughly 'strength is justice'. This again makes use of elevated literary language, in particular the classical Japanese copula なり nari, to capture the dignity of an aphorism. The Japanese chapter title is clearly modelled on the conventional expression. (An alternative way of translating 'might is right' is 勝てば官軍 kateba kangun, meaning 'if you win, you are the government army' (meaning that if you lose you are the rebel forces).

The Vietnamese translation is also a direct translation of Rowling's original and does not appear to be based on the Vietnamese version of 'Might is right', which is Lẽ phải thuộc về kẻ mạnh.

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

Chapter 11
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