Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation


"Voldy's gone mouldy", as chanted by Peeves (Book 7)


Peeves is a master of trite, childish doggerel; his little chanted rhymes form one of the minor points of interest of the Harry Potter books.

After the tension and high drama of Voldemort's final defeat, Peeves comes out with a victory song which Ron aptly characterises as capturing the 'scope and tragedy of the thing'.


We did it, we bashed them, wee Potter's the One,
And Voldy's gone mouldy, so now let's have fun!


Chinese (Mainland)


Wǒmen huò quánshèng, Bōtè shì gōngchén,
Fùdìmó wándàn, dàjiā jìn kuánghuān!

The Mainland Chinese translation uses two lines of 5x5 characters each, a nice symmetrical structure.

'Potter's the One': Chinese uses the word 功臣 gōngchén, meaning 'person who has rendered outstanding service', or more simply, 'hero'.

'Voldy's gone mouldy': This uses the colloquial expression 完蛋 wándàn (or more colloquially wánrdàn), which means 'to be finished, done for'. Voldy is given as straight 'Voldemort' (伏地魔 Fùdìmó)

'Have fun': This is translated as 狂欢 kuánghuān, meaning 'revelry, carnival', or to engage in these.


Chinese (Taiwan)


Wǒmen zhēn xíng, dǎkuǎ dírén, wǒmen Pōtè shì jiùxīng!
Xiǎo Mómó wándàn lā, dàjiā yīqǐ xiào hā hā!

The Taiwanese translation makes less attempt at reproducing an interesting meter or rhyme scheme in Chinese.

'Potter's the One': Chinese (Taiwan) uses the word 救星 jiùxīng, literally meaning 'saving star', more naturally rendered as 'liberator, emancipator'. The word is used for people who help save people from their sufferings.

'Voldy's gone mouldy': This also uses the colloquial expression 完蛋 wándàn (or wánrdàn), which means 'to be finished, done for'. Voldy is 小魔魔 Xiǎo Mómó, i.e., 'Little Mortmort', or more literally 'Little Demon-demon'. The use of the word xiǎo 'little', and even more so the cute reduplicated form 魔魔 Mómó, such a well-known device in the naming of pandas in China, captures the nuance of 'Voldy' quite well.

'Have fun': This is translated as 一起笑哈哈 yīqǐ xiào hā hā, 'laugh together'. It is meant to rhyme with the particle in the previous half of the line.



やったぜ 勝ったぜ 俺たちは
ちびポッターは 英雄だ
ヴォルちゃんついに ボロちゃんだ
飲めや 歌えや さあ騒げ

Yatta ze katta ze oretachi wa
Chibi Pottā wa eiyū da
Voru-chan tsui ni boro-chan da
Nome ya utae ya sā sawage




Tụi mình đã oánh, tụi mình đã thắng, hoan hô Potter,
Và Voldy mọc mốc, còn khuya mới khóc, giờ tha hồi vui!

'Potter's the One': This becomes hoan hô Potter 'cheer, acclaim Potter' (related to Chinese 歡呼).

'Voldy's gone mouldy': 'Gone mouldy' is expressed as mọc mốc, which quite literally means 'grow mould' or 'go mouldy'. Voldy is translated simply as Voldy. The problem, of course, is whether this is likely to mean anything to the Vietnamese reader. First there is the quite literal translation of 'go mouldy', which loses half its impact because it doesn't rhyme with 'Voldy'. And 'Voldy', of course, is exactly the same as the name in English. This shows both the advantage and disadvantage suffered by languages using the Roman alphabet. Because the letters are the same, Vietnamese has the luxury of being able to reproduce the original English without much strain. The reverse side of the coin is that, rather than trying to come up with an equivalent Vietnamese expression, a lazy translator is tempted to simply use the original English.

arrow up