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I have two versions of Harry Potter (book 1) in mandarin chinese. Although the translation are mostly the same. There are enough difference to make me wonder if one is better than the other. By better I mean, is one either more accurate to the original or is one more suitable for someone reading their first full novel in mandarin. I can follow them both just fine. But I would if someone could provide insight on which translation is best. This is the first full novel that I'm reading and I don't want to invest a lot of time into a book that's not considered a good translation.

Original

“Harry woke early the next morning. Although he could tell it was daylight, he kept his eyes shut tight. “It was a dream,” he told himself firmly. “I dreamed a giant called Hagrid came to tell me I was going to a school for wizards. When I open my eyes I’ll be at home in my cupboard.” There was suddenly a loud tapping noise. And there’s Aunt Petunia knocking on the door, Harry thought, his heart sinking. But he still didn’t open his eyes. It had been such a good dream. Tap. Tap. Tap. “All right,” Harry mumbled, “I’m getting up.” He sat up and Hagrid’s heavy coat fell off him. The hut was full of sunlight, the storm was over, Hagrid himself was asleep on the collapsed sofa, and there was an owl rapping its claw on the window, a newspaper held in its beak. Harry scrambled to his feet, so happy he felt as though a large balloon was swelling inside him. He went straight to the window and jerked it open. The owl swooped in and dropped the newspaper on top of Hagrid, who didn’t wake up. “The owl then fluttered onto the floor and began to attack Hagrid’s coat. “Don’t do that.” Harry tried to wave the owl out of the way, but it snapped its beak fiercely at him and carried on savaging the coat. “Hagrid!” said Harry loudly. “There’s an owl —” “Pay him,” Hagrid grunted into the sofa. “What?” “He wants payin’ fer deliverin’ the paper. Look in the pockets.” Hagrid’s coat seemed to be made of nothing but pockets ”

Excerpt From: J.K. Rowling. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.” iBooks.

Translation #1

“哈刮第二天早上很早就醒来了,虽然他能感觉到已是天亮了,却仍然把眼睛闭得紧紧的。 "那是个梦,"他非常确定地对自己说,"我梦见了一个名叫哈格力的巨人,他告诉我我将进入一所学校学习魔法,当我睁开眼的时候,我便会呆在家中的橱柜里了。" 突然,有一阵很响的敲击声。 "那是帕尤妮亚姨妈在敲门了。"哈利想。他的心在下沉,但是他仍然紧闭双眼,因为那实在是个太美妙的梦了。 啪、啪、啪。 "好了,"哈利咕哝着,"我就起来了。" 他坐起来,哈格力的大外套从他身上滑落下来。小屋子里立刻充满了阳光,暴风雨已经过去,哈格力自己在一张折叠式的沙发上睡着了,“一只猫头鹰用爪子拍打着窗户,嘴里还叨着一份报纸。 哈利慢慢爬起来。他感到非常开心,就好像有一只大气球在他体内膨胀似的。 他径直走到窗户前面,猛地推开它,窗外那只猫头鹰便扑了进来,把报纸放在了熟睡的哈格力的头上,然后它振动着翅膀,停在地板上,开始啄哈格力的外衣。 "不许这样。" 哈利尽全力想把猫头鹰赶走,但是猫头鹰粗暴疯狂的用它的尖嘴啄哈利,并且不断地啄着那件外套。 "哈格力,"哈利大声叫喊,"这儿有只猫头鹰……" "付钱给他。"哈格力在沙发里咕嗜着。 "什么?" "他为我们送了报纸所以要拿报酬,看看口袋里。”

Excerpt From: 罗琳, J.K. “哈利波特与魔法石.” epub掌上书苑, 2010-04-11. iBooks. This material may be protected by copyright.

Translation #2

第二天一大早哈利就醒了。他明明知道天已经亮了,可还是把眼睛闭得 紧紧的。 “这是一个梦,,,他确定无疑地对自己说,“我梦见一个叫海格的巨人,他来对我说,要我进一所魔法学校。等我一睁眼,我准在家里,在碗柜里。” 突然传来一阵啪啪的响声。 “又是佩妮姨妈在捶门了。,,哈利心里想,他的心一沉。可他没有睁开眼,因为那个梦实在太好了。 啪。啪。啪。 “好了,”哈利嘟哝说,“我这就起来。” 他坐了起来,海格的厚外衣从身上滑了下来。小屋里充满了阳光,暴风雨已经过去了。海格睡在坍塌的沙发上。一只猫头鹰正用爪子敲打窗户,嘴里衔着一份报纸。哈利感到特别高兴,仿佛胸中揣着的一个气球渐渐鼓起来,使他飘飘欲仙了。他径直走到窗前,用力推开窗户。猫头鹰飞了进来,把报纸扔到海格身上,但他还是没有醒。猫头鹰扑腾着翅膀飞到地上,开始抓海格的外衣。

抓。” 是猫头鹰用它的利喙朝哈利猛啄过去,之后又 哈利摆手想让猫头鹰走开,可去抓海格的外衣。 有一只猫头鹰一一,, ‘‘海格r哈利大声喊道,‘‘这里 即地说。 “把钱付给它。”海格在沙发里哼哼唧, “什么?” 袋里找找。,, ‘‘它要你付送报费。你在外衣 海格的外社面除了口袋,

no copyright infringement intended. Just asking for educational purposes

3

Short Answer

Both translations preserved most of the meanings in the original text. (Some by mistake and some deliberately dropped/altered for the smoothness of the overall context)

For learning purposes, I would recommend the first one for its relative formality. If you are just reading for fun, the second one is more relaxing with its colloquial and conversational nature.

Further Explanation

(If I made a incorrect comment on any of the translation, please point it out. Thanks!)

  • Translation Comparison

Below is a list of some obvious examples sentences, where the left is from the first translation:

很早就醒来了 vs 一大早哈利就醒了

一大早 is unlike to be seen in academic/professional writing.

那是个梦 vs 这是一个梦,,,

The use of ellipsis (I am not fond of the commas in place of though) in a quote is informal yet vivid.

我便会呆在家中 vs 我准在家里

The word is used in conversations to mean 肯定、一定

很响的敲击声 vs 啪啪的响声

Again, using 啪啪 to represent the actual sound is more vivid.

  • (Not-so-important) Error Picking

The two translations have the following errors:

学校学习魔法

Well, from school for wizards to school to learn magic...魔法學校 is much better.

折叠式的沙发上睡着了

Collapsed = 坍塌, Foldable = 折叠式. Although this detail is rather trivial to story progression and the plot.

哈利感到特别高兴 ... 使他飘飘欲仙了

The translator dropped the scrambled to his feet and added these to sentences to emphasize his happiness... Perhaps creativity has been overly presented here.

抓。” 是猫头鹰... (till the end)

I do not know what happened from here for the second translation. This part on is a bit chaotic, but otherwise it can be a good translation.

3

I prefer the second one since the first one is too prim in my opinion. As a story, especially Harry Potter, the second translation is closer to the original in the sense of writing style.

e.g. The owl then fluttered onto the floor t1 它振动着翅膀,停在地板上 t2 猫头鹰扑腾着翅膀飞到地上 t1 sounds like the owl is some sort of robot. t2 just sounds much better since a bird can 扑腾翅膀, and they normally don't 振动翅膀. It is ok if you use 震动, but birds are not vibrators.

So they both accurate enough, but I'll buy the second translation.

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