Harry Potter translations from English around the world are hilarious and surprising

A Redditor posted an interesting question yesterday : “People who read the Non-English versions of the [Harry Potter]books, were there any translation controversies?”

He was inspired by some hilarious Japanese Harry Potter translations.

In an example of why Reddit is sometimes great, contributors jumped in with examples from all over the world.

Here are some of the best.

Some Harry Potter translations are so surprisingly appropriate we should start using them in the English version

In Norway, Fudge’ name in the first book (Kornelius Bortfor-Klar) means “explain away”.

In Turkey, dementors were translated as “ruh emici” which literally means “soul sucker”.

In Romania, Quidditch is called Vâjhaţ which means “Whoosh-Catch”.

In Finnish, the (invented) word for Dementor was adopted into everyday language and is now used to mean buzzkill or a drag.

in Brazil Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin and Ravenclaw became Grifinória, Lufa-lufa, Sonserina and Corvinal. Brilliant!

Voldemort is named Φολιδόμορτος which means “Scaly Death” in Greek.

in Romania, they focused on Voldermort’s lack of nose. He’s called Lord Cap-De-Mort which translates to something like ‘Lord Skull’ or ‘Lord Jolly Roger.’

In Japan, Snape’s last words “look at me” was translated with a different pronoun from the one he uses with Harry, making it obvious he’s speaking to Lily. Kind of perfect.

Some book translations resulted in surprised faces when the movies came out

Apparently, the word for wand in the Japanese version has a similar meaning to walking stick.

This lead to some readers picturing magic staffs.

They must have felt shortchanged at the movie’s tiny wands!

Some interpretations are simply hilarious

See how one Russian translator mangled the characters’ names :

Snape is translated as Snegg, Zlodeus Zlei, literally Villainous Villain.

Loona Lovegood is transformed into Loona Psihuna or Psycho-una.

Trelawney is interpreted as Samogoni. The redittor suggest it’s an allusion to home-made vodka!

Quirrel, believe it or not, is called Squirrel.

Hagrid is simply Ogrid.

My personal favourite, Bagshot is translated to Jukpuk or Beetle-fart.

Hound Dog

ID_voldemort

When J.K. Rowling came up with the anagram ‘I am Lord Voldemort’, translators all over the world sobbed.

In French, Tom Riddle’s name rearranges to say ‘Je suis Voldemort’ / ‘I am Voldemort’, making his full name Tom Elvis Jedusor.

Yep, French Voldemort’s middle name is Elvis.

Silence, Dumbledore!

dumbeldore_translation

Dumbledore in the Italian books is “Albus Silente”.

Perhaps an attempt to translate the “dumb” from his name to “silent” (or mute)?

Dumbledore may be brooding at times, but he’s hardly silent!

But you have to love Madame Pomfrey or Madama Poppy Chip.

Snape Kaboom!

exploding_snape

In one German translation, the game “exploding snap” appeared as “Snape explodiert”, which means “exploding Snape”.

Sounds like an awesome game!

Barrels of Meat?

In an early German version of the 4th Book, they translated “800 barrels of mulled mead” that Dumbledore had ordered for the yule ball as if it said “meat” instead of “mead”.

Which begs the question, why meat would be delivered in barrels – and why Harry would be excited about that.

Measly Exams

In the Swedish translation of N.E.W.T.s (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Levels), the magical exams became the F.U.T.T., literally Terribly Exhausting Wizard’s Test.

‘Futt’ cracks up the swedes – it means ‘measly‘ in Swedish.

The Japanese book translations deserve an entire section to themselves

jap_HP

    • they kept on mixing up whether Lily or Petunia was the older/younger sister

 

    • the potions puzzle is wrongly translated so you can’t get the solution

 

    • “Charms” was translated to “Fairy Magic”

 

    • “Snape looked as though someone had just fed him a large beaker of Skele-Gro” was translated to feeing Skele-Gro to the beaker

 

    • instead of “Free Elf” it was translated to “Free Slave Elf”

 

    • the part where Aberforth says “he wants you too badly” was translated to “Voldemort wants you too badly”

 

    • “flesh memories” was translated to “the meat memory”

 

  • There are a bunch of personal pronouns in Japanese and the ones they chose made Voldemort and Snape sound like a caricature.

Check out the Wiki for lots more Japanese Harry Potter translations.

Know any other translations of Harry Potter?  Share with us below.

  • Erza Lovegood

    In Greek, Tom Marvolo Riddle is translated as Anton Morvol Hert, and the anagram as “I am archon Voldemort”. It’s not that funny, but when you see that his father’s name was Tom, and then, in the Goblet of Fire, Voldemort says he was named after his father, it’s really confusing…
    Also, in Greek, Hufflepuff is written Χάφλπαφλ, pronounced Hufflepuffle. And, when I saw all these posts on internet writing it Hufflepuff, I understood something is wrong.
    Of course, Hermione is a Greek name, so it’s written in the Greek version Ερμιόνη, pronounced Ermioni. Same with Sirius, written Σείριος, pronounced Sirios. This happens with the most Greek or Latin names in the series.
    Quaffle, bludger and snitch don’t have a specific name, but they’re translated as red ball, black ball and golden ball. The only exception is in Quidditch through the ages, where they’re written with their actual names, but with Greek letters.
    The Golden/Silver Trio and the Marauders don’t have a translation in Greek, and the marauders map is named “the map of Hogwarts”.

  • Siobhan O’Shea

    Thanks for the comment, Erza.

    I like Hufflepuffle!

    I bet that anagram gives headaches to translators all over the world.

  • Williukea

    Check out Lithuanian version – the translator Zita Mariene is the worst and made many mistakes and mistranslations… Malfoy became Stinker, Hermione became Annoying, grammar mistakes between translations (English U is spelled as A in words like Umbridge, Dumbledore etc and is usually translated like that. But in Lithuanian, Dumbledore remained with U (Dumbldoras), while Umbridge got A (Ambridž), character names vary between translated surnames and original surnames with Lithuanian pronouncation, translation was fixed many times, but the most obvious mistakes never get fixed