Harry Potter and the 64 Translations

With the penultimate instalment of Harry Potter’s new adventures just released … it is not only on a screen near you – but all around the world!  The new film, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part 1), will be released in different languages in many countries across the globe.  However, it won’t be dubbed into as many languages as the Harry Potter books, which have been translated into a staggering 64 different languages, including Ancient Greek and Latin!

With so many invented words and word games, the translators must have had a hard job. As a quick example – Lord Voldemort’s name is a tricky one to translate. His real name Tom Marvolo Riddle forms an anagram of ‘I am Lord Voldemort’, so his name has to change to fit with the language. In the Icelandic version he is Trevor Delgome whereas in French he is Tom Elvis Jedusor or ‘Je suis Lord Voldemort’.

Alongside official translations there have been many amateur attempts at translations of the books. One version released in Venezuela five months before the official Spanish translation, included phrases such as “Here comes something that I’m unable to translate, sorry,” and “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand what that meant”.

Rather than bother to translate, some have publishers have just written completely fake versions in other languages. China has seen versions including “Harry Potter and his Leopard Walk up to Dragon”, “Harry Potter and the Porcelaine Vase” and even “Harry Potter and the Chinese Overseas Students at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry”.

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