As anyone who has read the books can tell you, the Harry Potter series is written in British English, and is replete with cultural references which are difficult to translate across borders, much less languages. This problem is only compounded by the words which the author created to name the people, places and things in her books.
Linguists have been talking about the problem of translating Harry Potter for over a decade, and recently Vox published a video which detailed some of the more interesting examples of the substitutions and alterations made by translators as they grappled with cultural and language barriers.
It’s worth reading, and so are the half dozen links I found while I was distracted by this story.
- Translating Harry Potter, Part I
- Introducing Albus Silente: Harry Potter in translation (The Guardian)
- The Language of Harry Potter (Language Realm)
- Pirate Chinese Potter books sold (BBC NEWS)
- 10 Amazing Facts About Harry Potter in Translation, All Over The World (moviepilot.com)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly … Translations? (alsintl.com)