Chapter 4 🧙 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 🪄 Multilingual 💬

Harry Potter lives in the cupboard under the stairs at his uncle and aunt’s house at number four, Privet Drive - until the day when a mysterious letter arrives from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and a giant on a flying motorcycle arrives to change his life with four simple words: ‘Harry - yer a wizard.’

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Reading Schedule

The regular schedule covers one chapter a week, but if you find this too fast, the relaxed schedule covers one chapter every two weeks. :slightly_smiling_face:

Regular Schedule

Week Start Date Chapter
4 Apr 22 Chapter 4

Relaxed Schedule

Week Start Date Chapter
7 May 13 Chapter 4 (first half)
8 May 20 Chapter 4 (second half)

Discussion Guidelines

  • Spoilers should always be hidden using spoiler blur.
  • When discussing a specific section, please mention where you are in the book, ideally by chapter so people reading different versions have a clear point of reference.
  • Feel free to read ahead if it’s exciting, but please refrain from spoiling ahead of the appropriate week.
  • If you have a question about grammar, vocab, cultural things, etc - ask! That’s a welcome part of the discussion too, and other readers will be happy to help.


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Finished this week’s Spanish reading; this chapter has, by far, had the most text differences between my audiobook and physical copy. It also highlighted how much trouble the audiobook narrator has with any speech that needs that extra oomph of emotion in it; his normal speaking voice is quite nice, but he never managed to convince me that anyone in that shack was all that angry.

It’s hilarious to me imagining the Dursley’s needing to find a doctor willing to surgically remove Dudley’s tail; how did that conversation go, I wonder? :rofl:

One thing that’s come to my attention is how the Japanese audiobook tracks for each chapter are consistently longer than the Spanish, sometimes quite a bit so:

JP track length ES track length
(Carlos Ponce ver.)
43:26 29:33
29:55 21:57
34:56 24:34
40:03 25:36

No use comparing page counts for my physical copies; they’re formatted far too differently. This Spanish narrator has so far had a bad habit of barely pausing between sentences early on as well, though I don’t know how much that may contribute. Anyone listening to other language versions notice how they fall compared to JP/ES?


It’s interesting that there’s such a noticeable difference! :hushed:

Here are the times for the languages I’m listening to:

German Norwegian Korean
35:16 34:18 46:27
24:02 23:20 32:17
27:36 27:16 35:11
29:40 29:04 38:02

I suppose it’s not surprising that German and Norwegian are so similar, but Korean and Japanese have similar times, too! :smile:


Read this weeks chapter in Spanish. A great chapter with some real classic moments.

Not too much to say except Hagrid has some great expressions in Spanish - ¡Gorgonas galopantes!

And of course the very famous, “Harry, eres un mago.” (hope that’s not a spoiler for anyone!)


Something I really like about the Norwegian version is that the names are all translated, so readers get the allusions that wouldn’t be obvious if the names were kept in their original form. For example, Albus Dumbledore is known as Albus Humlesnurr (humle - bumblebee, snurr - spin, twirl).

Rowling stated she chose the name Dumbledore , which is a dialectal word for “bumblebee”, because of Dumbledore’s love of music: she imagined him walking around “humming to himself a lot”.

Although funnily enough, Professor McGonagall is known as professor McSnurp, and snurpe (with an ‘e’) means crease, crinkle, wrinkle, and snurpe på means purse (as in “to purse one’s lips”). While this seems fitting for the character, her actual name means brave or valorous.

The German audiobook has the same names so far, with one exception - the brief mention of Sirius Schwartz (Black) in chapter 1. I guess there are different translations though, as the ebook I have keeps his original name.

The Korean hasn’t changed any of the names so far in the new translation (I’m pretty sure the old translation doesn’t either), although it does occasionally include a translator’s note explaining cultural things, such as:

  • Bonfire Night
  • Knickerbockers
  • Suspension bridge (??? perhaps not common in SK)

I searched ahead for other translator’s notes, and there are a couple of names that are explained (Leaky Cauldron, Scabbers), but important ones - such as the Hogwarts Houses - aren’t. Most of the rest are cultural things, such as druids, rounders (game), trifle (dessert), crumpets, fudge… A lot of food! :rofl:

If I had a choice, I’d prefer all translations follow the Norwegian example of localising names so the connections are more obvious, but if not, then I’d definitely want explanations of the meanings. Korean readers know that Slytherin (슬리데린, the same but written in Hangeul) is represented by a snake, but it isn’t explained that the name comes from “slither”, the movement that snakes make.

And come to think of it, not all cultures will have the same associations between animals and certain traits, such as snakes being clever/cunning, but also evil (synonyms for ‘snakelike’ are: cruel, devious, malicious, vindictive, etc). It’s possible (probable?) that these associations arose from the Christian story of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and so aren’t as obvious to those from other cultural backgrounds.

Perhaps this would be too much to ask for for most books, but HP is so successful that it’s a bit disappointing that some translations fall short, and don’t localise or add footnotes with extra information.

So, a few questions for readers of other languages:

  • Does your translation localise the names or retain the originals?
  • Which method do you prefer?
  • Are there any notes included explaining names or cultural things?

Yeah, the first prints of the first volume had the name translated and I think the first reading of the audiobook (narrated by Rufus Beck) had it, too. But they changed it back in later prints (I think - spoiler for a later book! - when Sirius was reintroduced in book 3 they decided to go with Black instead and also changed it in the following prints of book 1). And to be honest, I am so happy about it. I really hate it when they translate names :sweat_smile: :see_no_evil: I get your arguments, but it just feels wrong to me.
For example when you talk with people, who read the books (with translated names) in another language, you always have to explain whom you are talking about. Because of the different names. It is so much easier if everyone knows the characters by the same name :smiley:
And in case of Harry Potter most of the characters are British. Why should they have a german last name? Of course this could be the case for some with german heritage, but if every character would have it, it would feel strange and would not be as immersive. At least for me.
But I love the Korean approach with the footnotes! I would love it if all translations would do this. Because you can keep the original names and at the same time give readers an understanding about the meaning.

  1. I’d have to double-check to be sure, but I’m pretty sure both my Spanish and Japanese copies don’t translate any names, or at so far as I’ve noticed.

  2. I think I’m with @Nicole216 in liking name consistency for when you’re speaking with someone who read a different language translation of the book, but I could see if being a totally different case if you’re reading a non-English version and wish that the character names sounded more authentic to your language. I wonder which characters are most often re-named in foreign translations?

  3. Nope, none in my Spanish or Japanese. :frowning:

In HP’s case, it’s almost certainly due to an extremely tight translation schedule. I’m pretty sure that many, many publishers wanted their copy out the same day as the English book, and depending on the timeline the translators had to work with (like, for example, when did they get the manuscript? After Rowling submitted her final draft?), it’s probably a small miracle some translations are as readable as they are.

(I could be completely wrong about the above; I haven’t done any research into it or anything.)


Just to clarify, I’m referring specifically to the HP series, not books (or other media) in general - I also dislike it when names are changed in translation (for some reason, official translations of Chinese webcomics often change character names to random American names, which doesn’t seem to happen - or at least nowhere near as often - with Korean or Japanese media :thinking:).

The examples I gave above (Dumbledore, Slytherin) aren’t actually British names - they were invented to convey information about the character/house, which isn’t apparent in some translations. It’s really the invented names I’m referring to - I wouldn’t expect Harry’s surname to be translated to the language’s word for a person who works with clay and ceramics :rofl:).

While true for the original translations, some languages have more than one translation (perhaps some are just revised, but the Korean one was completely redone with a different translator). This obviously provides an opportunity to correct things that may have been missed, or impossible for translators to know at the time (series spoiler: the Voldemort/Tom Riddle anagram).


Another good example of that is the gender of Blaise Zabini , because it isn’t actually described until book 6. And since that name is gender-neutral, some translations initially got it wrong, such as the Dutch and Hebrew translations.


Oh, that’s very true; I didn’t think about it that way. :thinking: I think I still hold my same opinion, though; even made up, they’re still proper nouns. And honestly the secondary meanings behind them/inspiring them weren’t generally all that obvious to English readers anyway.

Hmmm, also very true. And with HP being the moneymaker it is, you’d think they’d need little excuse to pump out multiple “definitive” editions.


That’s a really interesting choice. The name McGonagall is so Scottish, and that Scottishness seems an important part of her character, especially the beautiful Scottish accent she has in the films. But maybe Norwegians don’t have much concept of Scottishness?

I remember in Dragon Ball some of the characters who speak in a rural Touhoku dialect, are translated in English speaking in a Southern US drawl, trying to capture some of the same feeling but in a way that English speakers would get the cultural reference. I wonder if McSnurp does the same thing for Norwegian readers.


How so? :thinking:

Good question! Maybe I can’t back that up. I guess she’s not some Scottish stereotype like Scrooge McDuck who is a real miser. Or Shrek who’s really grumpy. Or Groundskeeper Willie in the Simpsons with his wild red hair and aggressive temperament.

In my head though she is very Scottish. Maybe it is just that very Scottish surname and her wonderful gentle Scottish accent in the movies. Perhaps it’s the stern Scottish schoolmistress, firm but fair. I can’t remember if she likes a wee dram as well, it feels like she does!


Rereading this part after many, many years that I watched HP for the first time really makes me wonder why the Dursley’s were so reluctant to tell Harry the truth. I get it from the whole hating magic (and Petunia’s jealousy/hate towards her sister), but surely it wouldn’t be so bad for them to just send Harry away to the magic school and just not have to deal with having him in their lives?


But then Harry would be able to perform magic. And since they don’t know that he’s not allowed to use magic outside of school as a minor, so from their perspective he could come back from Hogwarts with lots of spells to use on them. Plus, he would’ve become even more abnormal.