Salut les gars! Now that I’ve finally got my hands on the edition I wanted of Harry Potter 5, 6 and 7, I feel it’s about time I crack on with my favourite English-to-French translations from Harry Potter 3 and 4 – that’s le prisonnier d’Azkaban and le coupe de feu – nothing exciting about the title translations. If you have no idea what I’m taking about, check out My 5 Favourite Potter en Français Translations PART 1.
I was more prepared this time and wrote down things I wanted to point out on a post-it as I read. Typically though, I lost the post-it for Goblet of Fire… so let’s just dive in and see what happens. Je jure solennellement que mes intentions son mauvaises…
Messieurs Lunard, Queudver, Patmol et Cornedrue
Is it just me, or does “Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs” get stuck in your head? Anytime I think about it, I say it about five times to myself, so I was excited to see how the introduction of the creators of the Marauder’s Map (la carte du maraudeur) would be translated. “Moony” to anything lunar related would be expected, so “Lunard” comes as no surprise. Wormtail is an interesting one, it took me a while to crack. “Queudver” – let’s break it down. “Queue” is tail, “de/d” – of, “ver” means nothing but I’m going to take a wild guess and say it’s just short for “vermine” – so it’s “vermin’s tail” – close enough, I’d say! Padfoot is translated to “Patmol” – “mol” can mean soft or faint. I wasn’t sure about “pat” but a cursory look in the dictionary taught me that “patte” means leg, paw or hoof – bingo! Prongs is an excellent English word, translated to “Cornedrue” in French. “Corne” as in horn, like in unicorn, OK that makes sense, but doesn’t “rue” mean street/road? After an intense google in English and French, I finally discovered that the verb “to buck” in French is “ruer” – et voilà!
Here’s a French language gem I didn’t know before Prisoner of Azkaban. At some point during one of Ron’s rants about Hermione’s cat Crookshanks (Pattenrond), the verb “ronronner” was used. Thinking it might be some sort of Ron joke, I looked it up and discovered it’s the French for purring. A fabulous example of French onomatopoeia! I’ve since seen it used in the books for purring car engines and snoring Rons.
Détraquers, Mangemorts, épouvantard & Strangulot
Time for few group and creature name translations I enjoyed. Dementor becomes “Détraqueur”, which translates to “perturber” – figures. Death Eater is literally translated to “Mangemort”, which is catchier if you ask me. Boggart becomes “épouvantard.” “Épouvantable” means horrible, horrendous, terrible so I guess that makes enough sense. My favourite is probably “Strangulot”. Any guesses? Grindylow! It makes me think of Hermione in the GOF film when she tells Harry “Fleur never got past ze grindylows” – funny Hermione, but not French!
Fans of the books are often disappointed by the omission of S.P.E.W. from the films – S.P.E.W. being Hermione’s house-elf liberation project “The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare”. So how does it translate into French? It needs to keep the society’s actual meaning but still spell out a word silly enough for Ron and Harry to mock. S.P.E.W. becomes “S.A.L.E.” – “Société d’Aide à la Libération des Elfes”. It fulfils its double meaning since “sale” means dirty, allowing the following to conversation take place just as it does in the English text. Translation is magical!
“Pas sale, répliqua Hermione, d’un ton agacé. Il faut dire S-A-L-E.”
La Marque des Ténèbres
I had no idea about this one. It kept popping up in passages about Voldemort and I kept asking myself, “what does “ténèbres” mean?” Turns out, it’s the (brilliant) French word for darkness and obscurity. So the dark mark becomes “la Marque des Ténèbres” and the Dark Lord becomes “Seigneur des Ténèbres”. I like that it’s plural – don’t ask why, it’s just a good word!
I’m onto Order of the Phoenix now but its length is looking even more intimidating since it’s in French, so don’t hold your breath for the next of these blogs anytime soon. Méfait accompli!