Trilingual Harry Potter Reread

Trilingual Harry Potter Reread: Book 1, Chapter 5: Diagon Alley

Whenever people think of the Harry Potter universe, one of the first examples that pops into everybody’s head as a canonical demonstration of how everything works is Diagon Alley: where all the Hogwarts students have to go to buy the equipment they’ll need for the coming school year.

And, well, it’s a justifiable thing for everybody to think of, because holy crap Diagon Alley is neat. As Harry gets to see for the very first time, in Chapter 5 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!

General Commentary

How aw-inducing is it that the very first thing Harry thinks of when he wakes up the next morning after meeting Hagrid is that it was clearly all a dream? And all the more aw when he realizes it wasn’t. Because there’s Hagrid, and oh hey look, an owl has brought the paper! An owl who expects to be paid, in fact, thereby introducing Harry a bit more properly to how mail delivery in the wizarding world works.

And in general, this chapter’s handing Harry a heaping helping of exposition, courtesy of Hagrid. Through Harry, we get to learn that wizards have banks, and that there is a Ministry of Magic, and that Dumbledore would never leave Hogwarts to go and serve as the Minister there. Moreover, we learn that the whole reason there’s a Ministry of Magic is to keep Muggles from finding out that magic exists. (One imagines that Muggle relations of wizards and witches get really interesting communiques from the Ministry. One also wonders exactly how the news was officially broken to Lily’s family about what she was–we know Petunia thought her sister was a freak! But we don’t know what the rest of the family thought, or how it was revealed to them that Lily was a witch.

Of course, if the Ministry’s goal is to keep magic hidden from Muggles, sending Hagrid to go pick up Harry isn’t exactly, well, stealthy! But as Hagrid so proudly proclaims, Dumbledore does trust him.)

Do we ever find out what the heck Hagrid is knitting, the thing that looks like a canary-yellow circus tent? Given the kinds of beasts Hagrid keeps, I am totally curious!

It’s great fun to read over the textbooks Harry is expected to pick up, not only because of getting several examples of various important authors’ names, but also because we get the mention of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Which, of course, we’ll be seeing brought to life in movies soon. (Yay!) I like “Arsenius Jigger” in particular, although I’m not sure that Rowling quite intended the nautical context I get from “Jigger”–thank you, lyrics to Great Big Sea’s “Rant and Roar”. I expect that if Arsenius Jigger was actually as much of a nautical individual as his name makes him sound, then Magical Drafts and Potions would be wizard code for 101 Varieties of Butterbeer.

Which, of course, brings us to the Leaky Cauldron! And in which the boy who’s spent all his life being abused by his adoptive family suddenly finds himself the center of adoring attention. I can only imagine how this must read to children sympathizing with Harry. I certainly know how it reads for me: i.e., as an affirmation for Harry that yes, he’s not dreaming, he is actually a wizard, and there’s a whole new world full of people who seem to admire him. That’s powerful stuff for a kid his age.

And now, typing this out, all I can think is, oh Harry, you poor kid, you don’t know what’s coming. Particularly since this is also our introduction to Professor Quirrell. (I’m quite charmed that Doris Crockford keeps coming back to shake Harry’s hand again and again, though!)

Quirrell isn’t the only plot point we get thrown in this chapter, either: there’s the mysterious unidentified thing in vault seven hundred and thirteen in Gringott’s. Amusing to see, though, that the wizard monetary system is not decimalized!

And of course, we get our first meeting with Draco. Who starts off semi-okay, but who then ramps up from 0 to complete prat in less than a page. Insulting Hagrid–the first person to ever be nice to Harry, ever–certainly doesn’t help the impression he makes on Harry, either. Through Draco, we get our first taste of wizard prejudice, and the lead-in for Hagrid to tell Harry about Quidditch, too.

Curses and Counter-Curses by Vindictus Viridian is, I bet you money, one of Fred and George Weasley’s favorite textbooks.

It must be said, too, that I very much love the scene in Ollivander’s, where Harry buys his wand. Another canonical, classic scene in the whole series. (And it’s worth mentioning that in my recent attending of Fiddle Tunes, this very part of the story actually came up in musical discussion at one of the meals–wherein a fiddler compared the selection of a proper bow to a wizard getting a wand, especially with how the bow almost chooses the fiddler. I love that to pieces, and it makes this scene all the more fun for me now. Because magic is music, and vice versa.)

We end the chapter on a reflective note for Harry. Kid may be only eleven, but he’s not blind to the import of the day he’s just had. And he doesn’t miss the weirdness of being famous for something he can’t even remember.

Two Countries Separated by a Common Language

The bartender of the Leaky Cauldron is described as looking like a “gummy walnut” in the UK edition of the story, and a “toothless walnut” in the US edition. Also notably, he’s called a “barman” in the UK edition, and a “bartender” in the US.

Other than that, I didn’t actually notice much else that differed between the UK and US editions. Possibly because this is the first chapter that’s really heavy on introducing wizarding-world stuff, and that was the same across both English-language versions of the story.

Five Things About the French Edition

There are a few places in this chapter where the French translation condenses stuff in the English edition. A couple of lines of dialogue are dropped in the bit where Harry tries to shoo the owl away from attacking Hagrid’s coat, the bit where Hagrid is explaining to Harry what the Ministry of Magic does, and the bit where Hagrid tells Harry about the dragons guarding Gringotts. I’m also seeing occasional places where dialogue is kept but translated a bit differently, such as Harry telling Hagrid in French “how are we going to buy this?” (his school supplies) instead of admitting that he doesn’t have any money. Some summarization happens when Hagrid takes Harry into Diagon Alley, as well.

I like the translation of Hagrid saying it seems a shame to row: “C’est quand même un peu idiot de ramer”. (“It’s still a bit silly to row.”) Just because “un peu idiot” was a phrasing I haven’t seen before.

This is fun: in English, Hagrid says “Crikey, I’d like a dragon!” But in French, he says “Sac à méduses”. To wit, wut? “Bag of jellyfish”? Googling for that, I can’t find a reference to this being a phrase used outside the context of Harry Potter, at least not easily! So I’m real curious as to where the translator got this. Likewise, “Blimey” becomes “Nom d’un vampire!” I must admit, I like the translator’s flair for swear phrases here.

Professor Quirrell’s dialogue shows his stammering with ellipses, rather than with the dashes you see in English.

I had noticed in my Trilingual Hobbit Reread that the French translator did not try to adapt any of Tolkien’s songs to make them scan properly in French. Here, that is specifically not the case. The rhyme that warns thieves about the perils of robbing Gringotts is in fact translated in such a way as to make it rhyme in French.

French Worldbuilding Terms

I was wondering exactly how the translated editions would handle “Diagon Alley”, since there’s an English pun there and that was hardly going to translate well. In French, the translation is “Le Chemin de Traverse”, according to the chapter title. Amusingly, if you throw that phrase through Google Translate, you get “Diagon Alley” as the translation. But if you actually break down to the individual words, it’s more like “The Path of Crossing”.

The names of wizard money in French are Noises for Knuts, Mornilles for Sickles, and Gallions for Galleons.

I’d already learned this word from reading Bilbo le hobbit, but I’ll note here that the French word for “goblins” is “gobelins”.

The name of the Daily Prophet becomes La Gazette du sorcier in French.

Unsurprisingly, the names of the textbook authors show some changes. Miranda Goshawk becomes Miranda Fauconnette. Bathilda Bagshot becomes Bathilda Tourdesac. Adalbert Waffling becomes Adalbert Lasornette. Emeric Switch becomes Emeric G. Changé (and in this case, it’s interesting as well that in French, he picks up a middle initial). Phyllida Spore becomes Phyllida Augirolle. Arsenius Jigger becomes Arsenius Beaulitron. Newt Scamander becomes Norbert Dragonneau. And Quentin Trimble becomes Quentin Jentremble.

The Leaky Cauldron in French is Le Chaudron Baveur. And in French, the name of the place is specifically italicized, whereas in English it is not.

“Defense Against the Dark Arts” becomes “La défense contre les forces du Mal” in French.

Griphook the goblin is Gripsec in French.

The names of the various shopkeepers are updated, too: Madame Malkin is Madame Guipure. Flourish and Blotts becomes Fleury et Bott.

Ah, here we have the names of Houses showing up, once Harry meets Draco in the robe shop. Slytherin is Serpentard, and Hufflepuff is Poufsouffle.

Ollivander does not have his name translated, but the wand lengths he keeps rattling off are in centimeters instead of inches.

Voldemort is called “Celui-Dont-On-Ne-Doit-Pas-Prononcer-Le-Nom” in French, which I think roughly translates to “He for whom one must not pronounce the name”.

Five Things About the German Edition

Right out of the gate, on the first page of the chapter, we get “zusammengebrochenen” to describe the couch that Hagrid is sleeping on. It means “collapsed”. Another contender for “best long German word in the chapter” is “Pergamentumschlag”, “parchment envelope”. A third contender is the number “siebenhundertunddreizehn”–713, the vault in Gringotts! And “Hochsicherheitsverlies” is pretty awesome, too: “top security vault”.

Hagrid’s “crikey” in English becomes simply “man”, as an English speaker in America might say.

Bit of translation weirdness where Hagrid is telling Harry about Quirrell’s background. In English, he’s described as having had “a nasty bit o’ trouble with a hag”. In German, though, the word used for “hag” is “Hexe”–which is also the word being used for “witch”. So the difference in nuance between “witch” and “hag” looks to me like it’s getting lost here. But I don’t know if it’d read the same to a native German speaker.

One of Hagrid’s uses of the word “yeah” gets rendered in German as “jaow”. I’ve never seen this before, and a bit of googling isn’t bringing me up a solid reference. Any German speakers reading this want to comment on whether this is indeed the translation for the English “yeah”?

Hagrid says “moin” to the Gringotts goblin–which turns out to be an informal way of saying “good morning” or “hi” in German. It caught my eye as it’s very close to words I know in French: moine and moins! Not at all sure how to pronounce this in German, though; I don’t see much “oi” in the German words I know!

German Worldbuilding Terms

Diagon Alley is “Die Winkelgasse” in German! If I break this down into its parts, I get “Winkel” as “angle”, and “gasse” as “alley”. So, “Angle Alley”. Not a bad translation, all told!

“Knuts” is brought over into German as is, the first of the wizard money terms. “Sickles” also is almost identical, being “Sickel”. Interestingly, this does not actually seem to be the direct translation to German of “sickle”, since according to my dictionary site, that’s actually “Sichel”. Lastly, Galleons become “Galleonen”.

“Goblins” in German is rendered as “Kobolde”.

The Daily Prophet gets literally translated as “Tagespropheten”.

Ooh, the term for the Ministry of Magic is another long, tasty German word: Zaubereiministerium.

The textbook professor list in German includes Miranda Habicht, Bathilda Bagshot (same as in English), Adalbert Schwahfel, Emeric Wendel, Phyllida Spore (same as English), Arsenius Bunsen, Newt Scamander (same as English), and Quirin Sumo. I particularly like the last one, since that looks almost Japanese. It’s kind of a neat thought to imagine one of the important textbooks as written by an Asian wizard.

The Leaky Cauldron becomes Der Tropfenden Kessel. And that last word certainly looks familiar to my Star Wars-loving eyes! It does make me wonder whether that’s actually where the name for the Kessel Run came from.

Dedalus Diggle in the Leaky Cauldron becomes Dädalus Diggel.

“Defense Against the Dark Arts” in German is “Verteidigung gegen die dunklen Künste”. And upon reflection, I think I recognize all of those words from study in SuperMemo!

As with the French version, the German version alters the Gringotts rhyme to make it work in German.

Slytherin and Hufflepuff are carried straight over from English as is.

And Voldemort’s sobriquet of “He Who Must Not Be Named” comes over to German as “Er-dessen-Name-nicht-genannt-werden-darf”.

Next post: Harry finally goes to Hogwarts! And meets Ron and Hermione!

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