Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation




Simplified Chinese (China) 门钥匙
mén = 'door, gate'.
钥匙 yàoshi= 'key'.
The gate key
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan) 港口鑰
港口 gǎngkǒu = 'port, harbour'
yào = 'key'.
The port/harbour key
Japanese 移動ポートキー
Idō kii (pōto kii)
移動 idō = 'movement'.
キー kii = 'key'.
ポート pōto = 'port'.
The movement key (portkey)
Vietnamese Khóa-cảng khóa = 'key'.
cảng () = 'port, harbour'.
The port/harbour key
(Where a Vietnamese word has been borrowed from Chinese, the original Chinese character is shown in parentheses.)


The portkey is another of those enchanting gadgets that Rowling has invented for Harry Potter's world. It is an item that will instantaneously transport the person who grabs hold of it to a predetermined destination. (See Harry Potter Lexicon)

Although the function of the portkey is clear, the meaning of the made-up word 'portkey' is less so. The main problem is the meaning of the word 'port'.

    The Taiwanese and Vietnamese translations interpret 'port' as meaning 'sea port, harbour', and translate the word accordingly ('seaport key'). This conveys the idea that the portkey is the starting point for a voyage.

    The Mainland translator seizes on the fact that 'port' can also mean 'gate, place of access' (e.g., in the word 'data port'), a meaning that can be traced back to Latin. This contains the idea of a gate leading to another place.

    The Japanese translator appears to have seized on a different usage: 'port' is found in English words like 'porter', 'transport' and 'teleport', with the meaning of 'to carry', which again traces back to Latin. To represent this meaning of 'port', the translator uses the characters 移動 idō meaning 'movement'. The translator then indicates that 移動 ('movement') is to be pronounced pōto. She does this by placing the rubi ポート pōto above the characters 移動 idō. The second element, 'key', is left unchanged as キー kii. In fact, キー kii is commonly used in Japanese and is actually replacing the native word kagi 'key' in some uses, especially in reference to car keys (車のキー kuruma no kii).

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