Harry Potter Around the World

Today is International Translation Day. To celebrate it, we are talking about one of the most successful British book series: Harry Potter.

The Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling are amongst the most widely read works of children's literature in history, with readers of all ages and nationalities. It is estimated that more than 450 million copies have been sold and the books have been translated into more than 70 languages. The translated versions include local languages in countries like Spain or India and dead languages – Latin and Ancient Greek – for academic purposes.

Did you know that Rowling invented a great number of words and phrases for the books? Especially spells, incantations, magical words, items, and place names. Many of these words involve wordplay, rhyming, and historical references that are difficult to translate, so translators often had to be creative. For example, as any Harry Potter fan knows Tom Marvolo Riddle, Voldermort's muggle name, is an anagram for 'I am Lord Voldemort'. When this was translated into other languages, Voldemort's name changed. Here are some examples:

  • Tom Elvis Jedusor (French – Je suis Voldemort) 
  • Tom Vorlost Riddle (German – Ist Lord Voldemort)
  • Trevor Delgome (Icelandic – Eg er Voldemort) 
  • Tom Lomen Valedro (Finnish – Ma olen Voldemort)
  • Tom Sorvolo Ryddle (Spanish – Soy Lord Voldemort)

Are you curious to know what the Harry Potter books are called around the world? Check out our new infographic and find out our favourite ones.


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