Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


Auto-Answer Quill


Simplified Chinese (China) 自动答题羽毛笔
Zìdòng dátí yǔmáobǐ
自动 zìdòng = 'automatic'.
答题 dátí = 'answer question/problem'.
羽毛笔 yǔmáobǐ = 'feather/quill pen/brush'
Automatic answering quill
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan)

Zìdòng zuòdá yǔmáobǐ

自動 zìdòng = 'automatic'.
作答 zuòdá = 'answer'.
羽毛筆 yǔmáobǐ = 'feather/quill pen/brush'.
Automatic answering quill
Japanese 自動解答羽根ペン
Jidō kaitō hane-pen
自動 jidō = 'automatic'.
解答 kaitō = 'answer (to exam question)'.
羽根ペン hane-pen = 'feather/quill pen'.
Automatic answering quill
Vietnamese Viết Lông Ngỗng Tự Động Trả Lời
viết = writing implement'.
lông ngỗng = 'goose quill/feather'.
tự động (自動) = 'automatic'.
trả lời = 'to answer, reply'.
Automatic answer goose quill
(Where a Vietnamese word has been borrowed from Chinese, the original Chinese character is shown in parentheses.)

One of the devices banned from the O.W.L.s exam (see OWLs). Obviously the Auto-Answer Quill is designed to automatically answer exam questions.


All four translations use the term 自動 (自动 / tự động), literally meaning 'self-moving'. This word was specifically created (probably by the Japanese) as an equivalent to the English word 'automatic' and spread to all Oriental languages influenced by Chinese.


The word for 'answer' is interesting. In English, 'answer' has a very broad range of usage, from responding to a vocal call, answering the door, picking up the phone, replying to a letter, giving a reply when asked a question, responding to an exam question or problem, responding to a request (usually with a simple 'yes' or 'no'), etc. The CJV languages use different verbs for different kinds of answering. Answering the phone, answering a letter, coming up with an answer to a problem, and answering a question all use different verbs.

In this case 'answer' refers specifically to giving a reply to an examination question. Despite the clear focus, it is notable that each translator comes up with a different word for 'answer'.

    答题 dátí (Mainland version) literally means 'answer problem'.

    作答 zuòdá (Taiwanese version) literally means 'make answer' = 'give a reply, answer'.

    解答 kaitō (Japanese version) literally means 'solve (and) answer'.

    trả lời (Vietnamese version) literally means 'to answer, reply'.


A 'quill' in English is an old-fashioned writing implement using the quill of a goose or other bird. In the Muggle world, quills have long since been supplanted by steel-nibbed pens, fountain pens, ballpoint pens, and now felt-tipped pens and other modern writing instruments. Hogwarts will have nothing to do with this new-fangled technology; it still expects its students to use traditional quills.

The word equivalent to 'quill' in all four versions literally means 'feather/quill pen'. The Vietnamese version actually indicates that this is a 'goose-quill pen', although it is clear that quills used for writing are not necessarily goose quills; eagle quills, knarl quills, pheasant quills, peacock quills, and even phoenix quills may also be used (see Harry Potter Lexicon: Magical Items and Devices).

As for the word 'pen' itself, the Chinese word / 笔 is a broad term that covers writing brushes, pens, pencils, and other writing instruments. Similarly for the Vietnamese word viết. The Japanese word ペン pen, on the other hand, has been borrowed from English and is used only for pens in the narrow sense.

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