Czech Translator for “Harry Potter” Books Dies at 63
We are saddened to report that Pavel Medek, Czech translator of the Harry Potter books, has recently passed away at the age of 63. He was known as one of the leading translators from English to Czech, the Harry Potter books being what he was most famous for translating.
His skills were shared with his brother Vladimir, who is also known for translating the Harry Potter novels from English into their native language.
Back in 2003, Czech reporter Jan Velinger of Radio Prague spoke to Medek of his work, asking firstly if he remembered the very first time he was introduced to the magical world of Potter that we all know and love.
My first encounter was actually with the Czech translation of the first book, after my brother finished it. I remember from the very beginning, I would say, it drew me in with the magic and the atmosphere. I… I liked it very much.
When asked if children’s literature was a genre he’d translated previously, he replied,
Harry Potter is really the first children’s book I translated. In the past – I don’t know if I can call it a specialisation – mostly I did science fiction and fantasy books. This is first real children’s book I did.
Prisoner of Azkaban was the first Potter book that Medek translated. The first two were done so by his brother. He gave his opinion on said book when told of its favoritism among avid readers of the series:
Maybe the reason is that the third book is an adventurous story; it’s almost, I would say, a thriller. I have the same experience because I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who say that the third book is really the best.
While on the subject of PoA, he was also asked about the translation of Buckbeak, which is Klofan.
He went into more detail about just some of the translations of everyday Harry Potter terms that we’ve all become accustomed to hearing:
Most of these basic names came from the first and second book, and that means that my brother had the task of finding good equivalents. The Hogwarts houses: There we have Gryffindor, which in Czech is Nebelvir, Slytherin is Zmijozel, Hufflepuff is Mrzimor, and Ravenclaw is Havraspar, for instance.
At the time of the interview, Pavel and Vladimir were still translating the books, and he was asked if there was a particular system they both took to continue their work and if it was a matter of working together or separately.
Well, mostly separately, but sometimes of course it’s necessary to come back to something. In that case we are in touch quite regularly. And besides, we have a common dictionary. In electronic form of course, we are adding new expressions from the new books and are sending them to each other. So we already have a very special, special ‘Harry Potter’ dictionary. I have to say that there is close co-operation.
When asked if there was a Czech equivalent to Harry Potter, in terms of children’s literature, Medek stated,
I can’t really recall any book like this in Czech literature, but then I can’t think of an equivalent in any language among any other writers. I think ‘Harry Potter’ is in a category by itself.
You can read and even listen to the rest of this interview by clicking here.
We here at MuggleNet would like to share our deepest sympathy and condolences with his loved ones at such a sad and difficult time.