Fan Project Brings Life to “Harry Potter” in Translation

It’s no secret that the Harry Potter series is a global phenomenon, having been translated into over 80 languages to date. Although some names and terms might not translate directly from the original British English versions of the books, the original seven-book series is the reason why the fandom that surrounds what is now the Wizarding World franchise is what it is today.

Recognizing this, one fan project aims to showcase the linguistic diversity of Harry Potter fans and their translated books from around the world. Called the Book That Lives, the project was started by Carly Jaddoa and Harrison Tu to collect recordings of fans from across the world reading the first paragraph of the first Harry Potter book in their native or second languages.

Alongside these authorized translations, there are many unauthorized as well. Interestingly, some of these authorized translations and adaptations began as unauthorized editions, and translations that were once thought to be authorized are found to not have been at all. These languages of Potter not only allow many others throughout the world to experience Potter in their own language but also give the story a life of its own. Because of these Potter translations and adaptations, more original cover art exists, each one giving its own little spin on this lovable and time-enduring series. And because of these translations and adaptations, many Potterheads around the [w]orld have been able to hear Harry speak in their own voice.

At present, Jaddoa and Tu have posted recordings read from the majority of the authorized translations in addition to recordings of other languages. The recordings are accompanied by the covers of their respective books, illustrating the differences in the same book’s cover art across different countries and cultures. One video also features Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the Braille version of its American English edition.

For more information on the project, including how you can get involved, visit the website for the Book That Lives.

In which languages have you read the Harry Potter books?

Mary W.

I am a Slytherin, a lifelong fan of Harry Potter, and a member of MuggleNet staff since 2014. In my Muggle life, I am passionate about human rights, and I love to travel around the world and meet new people.

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