Tuesday, August 14, 2012

just always talking about changing

so i've been reading harry potter and the order of the phoenix in arabic (result of an impromptu saudi bookstore trip and them not stocking the entire series). i'm only about halfway through it right now, but i thought i should still come here and point out the mistakes/changes in translation that have been slowing down my reading. (disclaimer: i probably wouldn't have even noticed most of these if not for the fact that i've read the series enough time in english to have it practically memorized.)

first of all, in the english series, there is a troll-leg umbrella stand in 12 grimauld place that tonks keeps tripping over. in the arabic series, it's just an umbrella stand. not a big deal except the added detail makes the image in my head change from a house that the banks (a la mary poppins) would live in to a house that dark wizards would live in. maybe it's just me.

when harry gets detention from umbridge, the english mcgonagall offers him a ginger newt. the arabic mcgonagall just offers him cookies. again, not a huge thing, but i loved how much detail went into the harry potter world. she could have just offered him a cookie, but she's a wizard and she keeps a tin of ginger newts on hand instead. along these same lines, butterbeer is translated into juice. (i kind of understand this one, but still.)

aside from the lack of details, some sentences are just translated wrong. for example, "harry's a free man" was translated into "harry's free, man." and "are you talking about lupin?" was translated into "did you talk to lupin?" once again, not major, but still enough to make me pause in my reading to say, "no. that's wrong."

i think my favorite thing about reading the translation are the little footnotes from the translator that come every few pages. when mcgonagall called students to be sorted last name, first name and then they went to sit down as first name, last name; or when a professor was suddenly called by his/her first name; or when someone refers to someone/thing with a nickname; or someones mixes up two words, there are lines and lines from the translator explaining how english people are weird and he swears he didn't make a mistake and he really did mean to write it like that and this is what everything would have been like if they were arab.

anyway, i realize that i'm probably being obnoxious and anal about this whole thing, but there it is.

*Changing - The Airborne Toxic Event


  1. anonymous hippopotamusAugust 17, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    only you..lol

  2. Neat! One day I want to get copies of the UK versions and see if I can spot any differences from the US ones. I'm sure they wouldn't even be as dramatic as these, but I think it would be fun to compare. If I ever actually learn German one day, I'd probably compare those too.

  3. i have the UK version of the seventh book because i was not in the country when it came out and apparently we're the only place that wants the US version. my sister has the US version, but i never read it. maybe i will. and yay for fellow HP fans who don't think i'm super weird for wanting to read it in another language and actually notice differences.