Okay, let's up the difficulty a little: Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley, the places where the wizarding community buys their broomsticks, wands, and date rape drugs. "Diagon" and "Knockturn" are, again, made-up words, but they're used to create an atmosphere -- "Diagon" is a strong word reminiscent of regality, whilst "Knockturn" rings of unsavoriness and getting your head kicked in.
The obvious solution for translators would be to translate "Alley" into whatever language they're working with and join the two together -- for instance, Knockturn Ruelle in French and Callejon de Diagon in Spanish -- or, alternatively, use two localized words to elicit a similar good/shady atmosphere.
Warner Bros. Pictures"C'mon, 'arry! Let's go to Magicthingesque Street."
Do you get the feeling that it's a little more complicated than that, however? You're right to think so.
"Diagon" and "Knockturn" weren't just words that built the mood of their respective locations. When prefaced onto "Alley," they formed two new words: "Diagonalley" (a play on "diagonally") and "Knockturnalley" (a play on "nocturnally"), references to how the wizarding world isn't straight-edge like the muggle world and conducts its affairs in the dark.
But none of that compares to the Tom Marvolo Riddle. In The Chamber Of Secrets, he reveals his name to be an anagram of "I am Lord Voldemort" because he only had the chance to learn either murderspells or the art of subtlety. This is a major plot reveal, so the translators couldn't avoid the task ahead: they had to think of a suitably malevolent-sounding name that also doubled as an anagram of that phrase (or a similar one).
And do you know what? They fucking did it. I know the rest of this article is about ways the translations ruined the original material, but this is impressive enough that I want to call it out. And it's my goddamn article, so ... He's Tom Elvis Jesudor ("Je suis Voldemort" or "I am Voldemort") in France, Tom Mersvoluko Riddle ("And here I am, Lord Voldemort") in Bulgaria, and Tom Dredolo Venster ("Voldemort den store" or "Voldemort the Great") in Norway, among numerous other iterations.
Warner Bros. Pictures"I am Voldemort, but my real name is Tom Va-... screw it. Just 'Voldemort' will be cool."
I've been reading Harry Potter since the beginning and I still can't recognize every instance of wordplay, pun, allusion, and acronym (you might be in the same boat). Spare a thought, then, for the translators who had to recognize all of this from the very beginning, never knowing whether that single word they couldn't find a suitable translation for might have wound up playing a larger role in the future books.
It's also only after you realize how different the books are between countries that one inescapable conclusion springs to mind: Unless you possess a supernatural gift for languages, you will never read the entirety of Harry Potter because every translation gives you a slightly different version of events. The multiverse exists, you guys, and it's sitting on bookshelves everywhere right now. Fire up your babel fish and go exploring.
Marina et Adam sont l'equivalent de Cagney & Lacey ou de Mulder & Scully de Cracked, bien que sans les 90 coiffures malefiques. Vous devriez les suivre sur Twitter. Adam a aussi une page Facebook et pourrait ecrire n'importe quoi ici car personne ne va jamais traduire cela. Psyche! Je savais que vous le feriez.
Think Nana and Pop-Pop's loving 60-year monogamous relationship is quaint and old-fashioned? First off, sorry for that disturbing image, but we've got some news for you: the monogamous sexual relationship is actually brand new relative to how long humans have been around. Secondly, it's about to get worse from here: monkey sex.
On this month's live podcast, Jack O'Brien and the Cracked staff welcome Dr. Christopher Ryan, podcaster and author of 'Sex at Dawn', onto the show for a lively Valentine's Day discussion about love, sex, why our genitals are where they are, and why we're more like chimps and bonobos than you think.
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For more check out 5 Insane Ways Movie Titles Are Translated Around the World and The Most Baffling Subtitles in Foreign Action Movie History.
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