Today’s announcement of the sale date of the final Harry Potter novel (July 21) offers an opportune moment to mention one of my favorite language related web sites, CJVlang.com. CJVlang is short for Chinese Japanese and Vietnamese Language, and contains a number of fascinating comparisons between the way words are used in Chinese and
how they are used in Japanese and Vietnamese, two of the three languages whose vocabularies are roughly half derived from Chinese loan words. (Unfortunately there is no material on Korean.)
As the site creator says:
It will take you on a trip through the familiar and the exotic — the way Harry Potter has been translated into these totally non-European languages, where they got their names for the days of the week, how their naturalists approach the scientific naming of birds, and, of course, the nature of the scripts the three languages are written in. The journey will give you glimpses of history, a close-up of the workings of culture, and the thrill of discovering the unexpected.
While the article on the comparative history of the names of the days of the week in these three languages, as well as Europe, is particularly fascinating the real attraction of the site is the massive archive of Harry Potter translation comparisons between Japanese, Vietnamese, and both mainland Chinese AND Taiwanese editions. While naturally of the most interest for fans of the series who are also familiar with one or more of the CJV languages, anyone interested in translation or comparative linguistics will also be fascinated by analysis of the translations of puns, character names, spell names, animals, and dialogue into each of these four editions.