Books about the boy who survived are translated into more than 60 languages of the world. Adapting the series has become a challenge for all countries. After all, the original text abounded with speaking surnames, pun words, cultural references and, of course, English jokes. Sometimes translators managed to maintain their original meaning, and sometimes they had to add something of their own to the text to make it more accessible to native speakers of another language.
We at Happy Worthy Life looked at the options for Harry Potter in different languages of the world and tried to find out which country managed to better adapt the names.
The Author of Harry Potter J.K Rowling
The surname Dumbledore, which the director of Hogwarts received thanks to Maria Spivak, is far from the most creative option. In Holland, the professors are called Parchmentus (Albus Perkamentus). Italians call the character Albus Silente, because dumb in English means “silent, wordless.”
In Norway, they took the Old English meaning of the name “bumblebee” and named the hero Albus Humlesnurr (Albus Humlesnurr, from humle – “bumblebee” and snurre – “buzz”). The Latvian version is Baltus Dumidors, the Czech version is Albus Brumbál, the Japanese is Arubasu Danburudoa.
Joan Rowling never confirmed the version that Severus Snape, or Snape, has something to do with snakes. According to her, the name Severus dates back to the name of the Roman emperor, and Snape is the name of the English village, restored by the same ruler.
The Italian translator, however, considered the reference to the snake important and called the character Severus Piton. The Hungarians also changed their name – Perselus Piton (Perselus Piton), to preserve the alliteration of the first letters. And in France, potions professors call Severus Rouge.
The Latvian version is Severus Strups (Severus Strups, from the word strups – “stupid”), the Norwegian – Severus Slur, from slurv – “sloppy”), the Slovenian – Severus Raws, from the word raw – “raw”, “rude”).
Another character whose last name was transformed during the translation is Dolores Umbridge. Finnish and French translators wanted to emphasize its dark essence, so they called it Dolores Dark (Pimento) and Dolores Shadow (Ombrage), respectively.
Professor Stalk in the Czech version became Pomona Prytova (from the Czech word prýt, which has about the same meaning as the original English sprout – “sprout”, “sprout”).
Professors McGonagall in Norway are referred to as Minerva McSnurp. The translators kept the prefix “Mac” to emphasize the Scottish origin of the heroine. But where the second part of the surname came from is unclear. In Norwegian, the word snurp means “net”, and the Scottish source goes back to the word meaning “brave”.
The Czechs also remade the professor’s surname in their own way: like all women’s surnames, they added the ending -ova and changed the prefix. And she became Minerva McGonagallova.
Harry Potter remains himself in almost all translations. Ron’s name is transformed infrequently. In Norway, for example, he is called Ronny Wiltersen. Hermione Granger (in the original, she, by the way, Hermaini) has the Germans name Hermain, the French – Hermione. The Chinese call it Hyo Min, and the Norwegians call it Harmine Grann.
The goalkeeper of the Gryffindor team, Oliver Wood, received the surname Dub from the Czechs, Dubois from the French, Plank from the Dutch, and Baston from the Italians. All options are somehow related to wood.
The original sound of the name of Harry Potter’s first lover Zhou Chang – Chang Chow – seemed to the Chinese too sad (it translates from Chinese as “great sadness”). As a result, she received the name Chang Qiu – “autumn leaf.”
The name of the school of magic comes from two English words: hog – “pig”, warts – “warts”. That is, in a literal translation into Russian, Hogwarts could be called a warthog. French translators, to preserve this meaning, named the Pudlard school (Poudlard, from pou du lard – “greasy louse”). The Hungarian version of the name is Roxfort, a mixture of Oxford and roquefort blue cheese.