Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


Avada Kedavra


Simplified Chinese (China) 阿瓦达索命!
Āwǎdá suǒmìng!
阿瓦达 āwǎdá = 'awada' (sound only, meaning is irrelevant).
索命 suǒmìng = 'demand life'.
Avada demand your life!
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan) 啊哇呾喀呾啦!
啊哇呾喀呾啦 āwādákādálā = 'awadakadala' (sound only, no meaning). Avadakedavra
Japanese アバダ ケダブラ!
Abada Kedabara
アバダ ケダブラ! Abada Kedabara = 'Avada Kedavra (phonetic rendering).
Avada Kedavra
Vietnamese Avada Kedavra!
Avada Kedavra! = Avada Kedavra (English used without change).
Avada Kedavra

Avada Kedavra is the Killing Curse, one of the Unforgiveable Curses. Delivery is accompanied by a flash of green light. The curse is first explained to the students of Defence Against the Dark Arts at The Unforgiveable Curses.

The Mainland translator uses a mixture of transliteration and meaning to translate the spell. The first part of the spell (Avada) is transliterated and the second part gives the meaning, 索命 'demand life'. 索命 is somewhat scary in Chinese. More often than not it is used by ghosts or victims of injustice who come to 'demand your life'.

The other three translators (Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam) use a phonetic rendition, i.e., they transliterate the sound only. Perhaps because the spell is explained to the students, there is no attempt to explain the spell or its meaning by the translators.

'Killing Curse' is rendered as follows:

Simplified Chinese (China) 死咒
Sǐ zhòu
= 'death'.
zhòu = 'curse, spell'.
Death curse
Traditional Chinese (Taiwan) 命咒
Suǒmìng zhòu
suǒmìng = 'demand life'.
zhòu = 'curse, spell'.
Life-taking curse
Japanese 死の呪い
Shi no noroii
shi = 'death' .
no = connecting particle
呪い noroi = 'curse, spell' .
Death curse
Vietnamese lời nguyền Giết chóc
lời nguyền = 'oath, jinx, curse'.
giết chóc = 'killing, gory, murder'.
Killing curse

The Mainland translation also calls Avada Kedavra 阿瓦达索命咒 Āwǎdá suǒmìng zhòu ('Avada life-demanding curse').


Vietnamese differs from the other translations in that it first appeared in instalment form, followed by the release of a single volume.

At instalment 29, where the spell is introduced to the Hogwarts students, the translator gives a footnote explaining the meaning of Avada Kedavra. The footnote reads: Avada = avatar, hiện hình. Kedavra = cadaver, xác chết. That is, Avada Kedavra is derived from 'Avatar cadaver', with the two words 'avatar' and 'cadaver' glossed as hiện hình 'to appear, show oneself' and xác chết 'corpse, dead body'. Together hiện hình xác chết means 'Show yourself corpse'. This explanation disappears in the single-volume edition of Book 4.

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