This article is a PB Bite summary of the main article, “Tʜᴇ Dᴜʀsʟᴇʏs ᴀʀᴇ ᴘᴇʀꜰᴇᴄᴛʟʏ ɴᴏʀᴍᴀʟ, ᴛʜᴀɴᴋ ʏᴏᴜ ᴠᴇʀʏ ᴍᴜᴄʜ!”: Iᴅɪᴏᴍs, ɪᴍᴍᴇᴅɪᴀᴛᴇʟʏ.

Takeaway: Harry Potter has been translated into nearly 100 languages. The very first sentence is one of the most challenging to translate. There are more than 6 different ways that translators around the world have decided to handle it!

Why it matters: That first sentence is a good indicator of translation quality throughout the rest of the book. Is it dry? Creative? Conversational? Or just way too literal?

The Lowdown: Here are the 6 different ways “thank you very much” is translated in that first sentence—

  • As “thank you very much,” literally.
    • Indicates: Translator is likely from UK or US.
    • Example: (Welsh) Broliai Mr a Mrs Dursley, rhif pedwar Privet Drive, eu bod nhw’n deulu cwbl normal, diolch yn fawr iawn ichi.
  • As a genuine “thank you.”
    • Indicates: Translation pays attention to detail, but is less light-hearted in style.
    • Example: (Portuguese, Isabel Fraga) Mr. e Mrs. Dursley, que vivem no número quatro de Privet Drive, sempre afirmaram, para quem os quisesse ouvir, ser o mais normale que é possível ser-se, graças a Deus.
  • By emphasizing that the Dursleys are normal.
    • Indicates: Translation prioritizes the “feel” over the detail.
    • Example: (German) Mr. und Mrs. Dursley im Ligusterweg Nummer 4 waren stolz darauf, ganz und gar normal zu sein, sehr stolz sogar.
  • By indicating the Dursleys feel normal today.
    • Indicates: Story characters have slightly different personalities in the translation.
    • Example: (Japanese) プリベット通り四番地の住人ダーズリー夫妻は、「おかげさまで、私どもはどこからみてもまともな人間です」と言うのが自慢だった
  • Deletion
    • Indicates: Translation might skip things that are difficult to translation.
    • Example: (Luxembourgish) De Mr an d’Mrs Dursley aus der Kellechholzstroos Nummer véier waren houfreg drop, soen ze kënnen, dass si ganz normal waren.
  • By replacing with a more native expression.
    • Indicates: Translation is more light-hearted and conversational.
    • Example: (Maori) Whakahī ana a Mita rāua ko Miha Tūhiri, nō te kāinga tuawhā i te Ara o Piriweti, ki te kī he tino māori noa iho nei rāua – kia mōhio mai koe.

Read more here.