Okay, I know I’ve pared down my blogging to Mondays only, but this was such a great idea (Sheri Larsen’s idea) that I decided to try for one more day each week. When I run out of TeenSteam, I’ll beg to be excused, but for now here I am.
One of my life passions happens to be intercultural communication, and I love how connected this passion is to another one of mine–Young Adult literature.
How does a non-western teen from China, for example, understand the stories about Harry Potter? Translation, yes, but some things can’t just be simply translated. There are often no cognates that exist between English and Chinese and many English words have multiple translation equivalents in Chinese. That’s why some of those “EASY-TO-FOLLOW” assembly instructions leave you scratching your head.
Okay, let’s say some translator manages to make the young wizard’s trials and tribulations understandable. What about all those allusions, references and underlying cultural assumptions that are embedded in Rawling’s books?
Here’s how the Chinese “help” their readers understand certain references to Western culture. They added some serious, scholarly footnotes. The problem is while serious and definitely scholarly in appearance, there are a few, er, errors? I’ve borrowed a few from a more serious and more scholarly source. If you’re interested in reading more of these, here the link:Footnotes to the Mainland Chinese Translation of Harry Potter (or all you needed to know about Western culture)
1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Footnote, Chapter 1: Kent is in the south of England. Yorkshire is in the north of England. Dundee is a port in the north of England.
Do the Scots know Dundee has been hauled over near Liverpool?
2. Harry and the Chamber of Secrets
Footnote, Chapter 6: Bandon: A port city in the southwest of Thailand.
My source and I have a hunch that Rowling referred to Bandon in Ireland, not Thailand. This explanation needs some ‘splaining.
3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Footnote, Chapter 28: The English word ‘bug’ (put a listening device in) also has the meaning of ‘bedbug’
This explains very clearly, why Ron asked, “Bugged?” Now we see there were fleas involved and the Brit’s MI5 may be implicated.
4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Footnote, Chapter 15: In English, the first letter in ‘Poor’ is ‘P’; the first letter in ‘Dreadful’ is ‘D’, the first letter in ‘Outstanding’ is ‘O’, the first letter in ‘Exceeds Expectations’ (what is normally known as ‘Good’) is ‘E’, and the first letter in ‘Acceptable’ is ‘A’.
And there you have the explanation for the West’s grading system. I always wanted an E on my report card.