I am a huge Harry Potter fan. So much so that at Nottingham, I’m a member of the Quidditch and Harry Potter society and was even on the committee during my second year. Despite this, last summer I realised I hadn’t actually read the books in a very long time. So the month before I moved to Germany I reread books 1-3. However, I didn’t bring the others with me. This led to me buying Harry Potter und der Feuerkelch in my first few weeks in Ilmenau. I have finally finished it. (Considering I read Deathly Hallows in roughly four hours, six months for the Goblet of Fire is somewhat impressive.)
Obviously, the majority of the world knows about Harry Potter, so I’m not going to review it or anything like that. I am, however, going to talk about certain things that tickled my fancy whilst reading it in German. There are probably spoilers. Beware.
1. Hermione is called Hermine in German. I’m not entirely sure why it’s changed, maybe Hermine is German for Hermione. All I know is that every time I read it, I hear the part from A Very Potter Sequel where Ron and Harry are searching for Hermione in the shrieking shack and cannot get her name right. (You can find it here, at about 4:02-4.20)
2. Buckbeck is called Seidenschnabel, which is a fantastic sounding word. According to Google translate it means silken beak, so is not a direct translation. But awesome sounding nonetheless.
3. The German for remembrall is erinnermich, which means remind me/remember me. Pretty accurate translation of remembrall if you ask me.
4. I always wondered how punny names got translated into other languages. For example, The Knight Bus. Turns out in German, The Knight Bus is the Fahrender Ritter, which means the travelling Knight. Guess that pun didn’t really translate so well.
5. One of the important parts of Harry Potter are the fantastic beasts (and where to find them). I always figured most mythological creatures were called the same in every language, but I am an idiot. I did, however, realise that some creatures would have to have new names because JK Rowling made them up. Like, Boggart. [Edit: I’ve been reliably informed that Boggarts existed in folklore before Harry Potter. Apologies for my mistake.] I did some googling and Irrlicht means will o’ the wisp in German. I feel like that’s probably the route of the German for Irrwicht, which is Boggart.
6. Die Kammer des Schreckens is the Chamber of Secrets. Seeing as secrets is Geheimnisse, I was surprised, but I feel like Chamber of Horrors makes more sense for a place that is home to a giant, terrifying snake. (If the Basilisk didn’t scare you, you’re probably a Gryffindor.)
7. Die Karte des Rumtreibers is the Marauders‘ map. According to my favourite dictionary site, Rumtreibers is not a word that exists in German. So yes.
8. Speaking of the marauders, Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs are Moony, Wurmschwanz, Tatze and Krone. Which is Moony, Wormtail, Paw and Crown. Don’t tell James Potter. His head’s big enough as it is.
9. Whilst on the subject of nicknames, Sirius Black is often referred to as snuffles in Book 4. In German this is Schnuffel. Which sounds way more cutsey and amuses me greatly.
9. So seeing as Tom Marvolo Riddle spells out I am Lord Voldemort (seriously, how bored was Voldemort when he figured that out?), his name has to change in other languages. In German, he becomes Tom Vorlost Riddle. Still sounds pretty
made up bad ass to me.
10. Mudblood becomes Schlammblut as a direct translation.
11. Schuleulen means school owls and Eulerei means owlery. Nothing remarkable about this except they are fantastic sounding words in German.
12. Talking of fantastic words, wizards pack of cards becomes Zauberschnippschnappacken in German. Gotta love the German compound nouns.
13. Goblet of Fire begins to show the Wizarding community as an international world, which means reading dialogue by Krum and Fleur, as accented German. It’s fantastic. Reading French and Bulgarian accented German is super odd, but amazing as well.
14. Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans are Bertie Botts bohnen jeder Geschmacksrichtung, which makes me want to bemoan the lack of alliteration, but they’re not exactly fully alliterative in English either.
15. Pensieve is German is das Denkarium. Personally, I prefer the German, but I think that’s mainly because I can say it. Unlike the English which has me tripping over the knots in my tongue.