ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

Translating a text is an incredibly complex task that needs to address many issues to preserve the original feel of the text and the depth of the characters, and the Harry Potter books are no exception.

Translations of Harry Potter from around the world can give us a peek into the hidden souls of the characters by showing us the aspects that different countries have decided to highlight if they have chosen to change the names.

Below are some of the most interesting and surprising changes in character names that give us a another insight into the personality of some of our fave childhood companions, but which one is your favorite?

Hermione's Netherlands Namesake

Harry Potter in Dutch
Harry Potter in Dutch

Hermione's name if difficult to figure out for even your average English speaking kid, but surprisingly it has changed little in it's travels around the world.

Children in the Netherlands know Hermione Granger as Hermelien Griffel, Hermelien for pronunciation reasons and 'Griffel' because it relates well to Hermione's character. In Dutch, a griffel is a pen once used in schools to write on slate. When someone is rewarded a griffel they have done something excessively well which suits the wise witch down to the ground.

Hermione knows she'd get ALL the Griffels!
Hermione knows she'd get ALL the Griffels!

The Slavic Boy Who Lived

They named me what?!
They named me what?!

Changing the name of the main character is a brave move, but Lithuanian translators chose something that would roll off the Slavic tongue a little easier and ran with Haris Poteris.

Meet The Wiltersens!

I'll let an actual Norweigan speak about their gripes with the translations in Harry Potter (which were all approved by J.K. Rowling btw), but some of the most major changes are the Weasley family who become the Wiltersens, including the most famous - Ronny Wiltersen otherwise known as Ron.

Neville's Long Balls

Sorry to break it to you, Neville
Sorry to break it to you, Neville

As if Longbottom wasn't a cringeworthy enough name, the Norweigan translators also went for Nilus Langballe which translates to exactly what you think it does. Soz, Neville.

It's awesome how translators tried to retain the juxtaposition of the character's noble, self-sacrificing character and slightly silly name though!

He Who Shall Be Named Some Very Strange Things Indeed

There is a surprising amount of variation in Lord Voldemort's name, but my two favorites come courtesy of Greek and Romanian. According the the Harry Potter Wikia page, Voldemort is named Φολιδόμορτος (which supposedly means 'Scaly Death') in Greek.

The Greek translators might have chosen to focus on Volde's skin texture, but in Romania it was clearly his lack of nose which caught translators imaginations because there he is named Lord Cap-De-Mort. This translates to something like 'Lord Skull' or 'Lord Jolly Roger.'

Long Live Luna!

While nearly every country directly translated 'Lovegood' into their own language, the Dutch went for a slighly different approach (presumably to retain the pleasing phonetics of the name) and named her Loena Leeflang. This translates to something along the lines of 'Loena Live Long.' Let's hope this describes her future <3

Dissatisfied Myrtle

Clearly alliteration is a key element of Moaning Myrtle's name, but this had led to some pretty funny translations including the incredibly polite Missnöjda Myrtle (Dissatisfied Myrtle) in Swedish and the slightly bland Mirtilla Malcontenta (Unhappy Mirtilla) in Italian. Of course, some of the translations seem a little harsher on the ill-fated ghost including Finland's Vala Væluskjóða (Crybaby Vala).

The Essence Of Dumbledore

The translation of Dumbledore's name around the world is one of the most interesting peeks into what his character represents. To any English speaker, the word Dumbledore is a slightly silly, cuddly sounding name that still manages to have a hunt of gravitas and the translations reflect that.

For example in Czech, they went for Albus Brumbál, which roughly translates to Albus Bumblebee, a sweet little metaphor for his strong yet soft personality. The Dutch however chose to focus on Dumbledore's impeccable scholarly credentials and named him Albus Perkamentus, which relates to parchment paper whereas the Italians chose to put the spotlight on Dumbledore's quiet, noble nature with the self-explanatory Albus Silente.

Do Harry Potter characters have different names in your native tongue? What do they mean?

(Source: Harry Potter Wikia)


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