Harry Potter and the Spanish ‘Tykes’.

UrbanAbydos has a Potterglot post that discusses… well, I’ll let the poster tell you:

The amount of variation in the Spanish editions of the Philosopher’s Stone is stunning. Writing is an art and from draft-to-draft, you expect the language to be tweaked. But once it has been edited and published, you don’t expect noticeable variation from edition to edition; maybe just the correction of a typo or two. Similarly, translation is absolutely an art; arguably more difficult and nuanced than just writing by itself. In addition to all the same kind of variation you expect from draft-to-draft, there is also the variation that comes from trying maintain the character and intent of the original. But again, once a translation has been edited and published, you don’t really expect that much variation in the final text from edition to edition. “Expect” is definitely the operative word here. Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal is all over the place! I hope that Spanish is unique in this regard because I’m terrified that if I start looking this closely at any of the translations (or the original English editions for that matter!) that I’ll find that Spanish is not the exception!

If that intrigues you, click on through — you’ll learn about Spanish owls and second-person pronouns, among other things. As I told Bathrobe, who sent me the link saying he wasn’t sure it would be of interest: “I don’t give a damn about HP (read the first one, thought it was dreadful), but I love this kind of detailed comparison of translations.”

Comments

  1. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    I am surprised that there was no mention of vos as a translation of “you”. It’s not used in Chile, but it seems to be quite standard for close friends and relatives in the River Plate region. However, you (LH) would know about that.

  2. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Something very weird, all the comments (apart from mine about vos) seem to have evaporated.

    I originally posted the following in the wrong thread:

    I don’t give a damn about HP (read the first one, thought it was dreadful), but I love this kind of detailed comparison of translations.

    You’d be surprised at the number of people (not children, and including many more or less academic people) who give lots of damns.

    Some years ago (probably about 2008) we were at a meeting in Oxford, where we stayed at Magdalen. Our meeting started on the day another one ended, and we met some of the participants at the previous one at breakfast. We asked each other what the meetings were about. We told them that we were discussing metabolic regulation, and they said they’d been discussing academic studies of Harry Potter, and that there were about 500 of them. We were surprised at so many (our meeting had fewer than 100), but one of them said that 500 was nothing, that she’d been at a Harry Potter meeting in Chicago the week before with more than 2000 participants, and would be at another the following week with a similar number in Miami. She also told us the number of PhD theses had been written about Harry Potter: I don’t remember that was except that it seemed ridiculously many.

  3. David Eddyshaw says:

    My Japanese copy of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (Harii Pottaa to Kenja no Ishi) explains in the blurb that J K Rowling was born in the Wales Prefecture of England (which is thus more extensive than the Principality, at any rate.)

    Charles, Prefect of Wales. Yup.

  4. January First-of-May says:

    I’m reminded of a table I tried to make a few months ago comparing the effective results of the previously official Russian translation of Harry Potter (ROSMEN) and (an older version of) the newly official Spivak translation.

    I don’t recall much of it now, but I was able to reconstruct a bit from other online reviews…

    – Original – What ROSMEN did with it – What Spivak did with it
    – Severus Snape – Severus Snowe – Villainus Vile
    – Luna Lovegood – Loona Lovegood – Psychena Lovegood
    – Quirrell – Quirrell – Squirrel
    – Neville Longbottom – Neville Longbaby – Neville Longbutt
    – Bathilda Bagshot – Bathilda Bagshot – Bathilda Bugfart
    – Hogwarts – Hogwarts – Cokeworth

    Supposedly some of the really big problems had been changed (Bathilda is no longer Bugfart, and the name of Hogwarts actually looks like Hogwarts… come to think, it might well have in the original version too), and it is told that the name I reflected as “Psychena” is actually the translation of what used to be “Loony” (while Luna is Luna).

    Entirely unrelatedly: apparently there are 16 different Persian translations, because Iranian copyright laws are tricky.

  5. You’d be surprised at the number of people (not children, and including many more or less academic people) who give lots of damns.

    No I wouldn’t; I know some of them myself. I’ve long gotten over my surprise that the books are so popular and are taken so seriously (when I read the first one, lent by a friend, it was the only HP book published, and I think it was the UK edition, so the US version may not even have been available yet), and I’m not by any means saying other people shouldn’t like it or write academic studies of it. I’m just expressing my own opinion, which is mine (as Des would say).

  6. David Marjanović says:

    There’s only one German translation, but it was done in unusual haste and is therefore full of bloopers, which are collected (in German) at a site I apparently can’t link to – the comment doesn’t even go in moderation. Colors get it particularly bad, with shocky pink becoming “bright red” and suchlike. Whole sentences are just missing. Some issues were corrected later, but most haven’t been.

  7. David Marjanović says:

    harrypotter hyphen xperts de slash gurkensalat

  8. Why cucumber salad is a stand in for bloopers?

  9. Several of the Harry Potter translations into major languages were done in unusual haste – a few months after English publication, with no advance copies of the original provided to the translators for fear of leaks. So a larger number of errors than usual is not surprising.

  10. no advance copies of the original provided to the translators for fear of leaks

    That’s mindbogglingly stupid — why not just have stiff penalties for leaking in the contract? But I guess the publishers don’t care about the quality of the translation, they just want one out there so they can rake in more dough

  11. I’m sure leaking would be much, more more profitable than translating. And suing people across national boundaries is no simple matter.

  12. True enough.

  13. Trond Engen says:

    The names from the Russian translations look as a poor choice of policy. Keeping them (apparent) English but making them less sophisticated is the worst of both worlds.

    The Norwegian translations are generally great, but there are a number of mistakes ranging from bloopers made in haste (names changing between or even within books) through the avoidable (misunderstood or lost meanings and connotations of obscure English words) to the inevitable (wrong choice of connotations to translate in light of the character’s development later in the series). I don’t know to what degree any of these have been emended in later editions, but I’m pretty sure no main character or location has been renamed.

  14. Trond Engen says:

    Less coffee and regular breaks during negotiations, that’s how you avoid leaking in the contract.

  15. Thread won.

  16. January First-of-May says:

    The names from the Russian translations look as a poor choice of policy. Keeping them (apparent) English but making them less sophisticated is the worst of both worlds.

    No, that was just me trying to translate the versions back to English for the effect (the table was aimed at non-linguists).
    Here are the actual Russian words in question:

    – Original – ROSMEN – Spivak (unofficial) – Spivak (published)
    – Severus Snape – Северус Снегг – Злодеус Злей – Злотеус Злей
    – Luna Lovegood – Полумна Лавгуд – Психуна Лавгуд – Психуна Лавгуд
    – Quirrell – Квиррелл – Белка – Белка
    – Neville Longbottom – Невилл Долгопупс – Невилл Длиннопопп – Невилл Лонгботтом
    – Bathilda Bagshot – Батильда Бэгшот – Батильда Жукпук – Батильда Бэгшот
    – Hogwarts – Хогвартс – Коксворт (?) – Хогварц

    In particular, “Snowe” and “Psychena” are my renderings of “Снегг” and “Психуна” respectively.

    Some other weird translations didn’t really work in a “rendering” version, but I might as well include them in Russian:

    – original – ROSMEN – Spivak (both)
    – Dursley – Дурсли – Дурслей [sic, in nominative]
    – muggles – маглы – муглы
    – Dumbledore – Дамблдор – Думбльдор
    – Hagrid – Хагрид – Огрид

    Probably others I forgot.

    Still better than whatever translation of the second book I read (…pretty sure it was a hardback, so probably at least partially official, but I guess I might be misremembering) whose main antagonist was named Том Дволлоддер Ребус…
    (Googling gives me “Том Д. Дволлодер Ребус”, which is even sillier, but doesn’t match my memory.)

  17. Trond Engen says:

    Oh, sorry. I didn’t get that. That makes them much better. And your literal back-translations too.

    The books are full of difficult choices between meanings and connotations to carry over. A simple name like Hagrid is a rare and old-fashioned word for “haunted by nightmares” that also looks like a rare and old-fashioned name containing the word “hag”. In Norwegian it became Gygrid, built on gyger “female troll”, which lacks the punning quality but works well as the story develops.

  18. > give a damn

    My academic acquaintances appear to be split evenly between the fandom-friendly, and the fandom-indifferent/hostile. I’ve had classes with the stereotypical elitist professor (in several different incarnations) who laments the downfall of culture as personified by Tolkien, Game of Thrones and other such opiate for the masses. More frequently, I’ve often talked with intellectuals who find it amusing that I would like such things, but can’t fathom why. And I’ve had discussions with learned, cultured scholars, the kind with whom you can stay all night debating Heidegger or the relative merits of antique Jesuit grammars or what have you, and yet whose eyes would just shine undisguisably at the hint of a discussion on the origin story of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a commentary on the 80s ninja fad as represented by Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil.

    I’m firmly in the latter camp, and yet I have to admit to kind of not liking Harry Potter. I mean it’s okay, it’s decent, and I like it as bedtime reading for my kids; but I love fantasy just too much, and I feel like it betrays the spirit of fantasy itself, for the reasons brilliantly explained by Ursula Le Guin in her essay on the topic. It also bothers me that its popularity overshadows what I see as more deserving fantasy/YA authors, such as Sarah Monette. But Popula is a fickle goddess, and I find that stuff gets popular basically because something has to be, and which one is chosen for the role is more or less arbitrary.

  19. I agree.

  20. J.W. Brewer says:

    “Hagrid” may be rare (before Ms. Rowling) almost to the point of non-existence. The only non-spurious hit I could find for it in the google books corpus between 1800 and 1940 was a single usage by Thos. Hardy (in Mayor of Casterbridge). It would have been clear in context that it was a clipping of the once-not-so-rare “hag-ridden,” which was probably archaic-sounding but not yet obsolete in the late 19th C. Whether such a clipping was reasonably common by actual speakers of rustic varieties of English back then but rarely written down or whether to the contrary it was an invention on Hardy’s part of a fictitious rusticism is not clear.

    To the extent I noticed the HP character (I have carefully managed to avoid reading the books while being happy for my kids to read them) it didn’t sound like an invented surname, but I think I am now realizing that’s because I was muddling it with “Haglid,” which was the surname of a guy I went to high school with, who was of some sort of Scandinavian-American ethnicity.

  21. J.W. Brewer says:

    FWIW the Hardy character who has learned to self-consciously avoid “hagrid” is the same one who rather famously is bullied by her father (or is he?) to say posh things like “stay where you are” instead of low-class dialect “bide where you be.” Interestingly enough, another self-consciously eschewed dialect word on the same page is “dumbledores,” suggesting that even if this is the only page of published pre-Rowling English literature with the word “hagrid” on it, it may well be a page that Rowling has studied.

  22. David Marjanović says:

    Why cucumber salad is a stand in for bloopers?

    The page explains that “cucumber” means “blooper”. Why that is, I have no idea – not my kind of German – but perhaps it’s related to the act of kicking a football through between the legs of someone who was supposed to stop it, which is designated as a diminutive of “cucumber” in Austria.

  23. January First-of-May says:

    perhaps it’s related to the act of kicking a football through between the legs of someone who was supposed to stop it

    Which – or so the Guardian of 2004 or so had led me to believe – happens to be known among some English speakers as nutmeg.

    A simple name like Hagrid is a rare and old-fashioned word for “haunted by nightmares” that also looks like a rare and old-fashioned name containing the word “hag”.

    I didn’t realize that Огрид (i.e. Ogrid) – the Spivak version of “Hagrid” – was supposed to be a pun on “ogre” (which in retrospect makes it quite a good choice) until assembling the translation tables today.
    When I originally encountered the translation with that name (in 2003 or so) my reaction was “wait, is he French now?”

  24. Interestingly enough, another self-consciously eschewed dialect word on the same page is “dumbledores,” suggesting that even if this is the only page of published pre-Rowling English literature with the word “hagrid” on it, it may well be a page that Rowling has studied.

    Great heavens, I’d say it pretty much proves it. What are the odds of its being a coincidence?

  25. The tl;dr on UKL on HP’s style: “I have no great opinion of it. When so many adult critics were carrying on about the ‘incredible originality’ of the first Harry Potter book, I read it to find out what the fuss was about, and remained somewhat puzzled; it seemed a lively kid’s fantasy crossed with a ‘school novel’, good fare for its age group, but stylistically ordinary, imaginatively derivative, and ethically rather mean-spirited.”

    Here’s the relevant passage from The Mayor of Casterbridge: Henchard and Elizabeth have just discovered that they are father and daughter. I quote it in full because of its prescriptivism:

    One grievous failing of Elizabeth’s was her occasional pretty and picturesque use of dialect words—those terrible marks of the beast to the truly genteel.

    It was dinner-time—they never met except at meals—and she happened to say when he was rising from table, wishing to show him something, “If you’ll bide where you be a minute, father, I’ll get it.”

    “‘Bide where you be,’” he echoed sharply, “Good God, are you only fit to carry wash to a pig-trough, that ye use such words as those?”

    She reddened with shame and sadness.

    “I meant ‘Stay where you are,’ father,” she said, in a low, humble voice. “I ought to have been more careful.”

    He made no reply, and went out of the room.

    The sharp reprimand was not lost upon her, and in time it came to pass that for “fay” she said “succeed”; that she no longer spoke of “dumbledores” but of “humble bees”; no longer said of young men and women that they “walked together,” but that they were “engaged”; that she grew to talk of “greggles” as “wild hyacinths”; that when she had not slept she did not quaintly tell the servants next morning that she had been “hag-rid,” but that she had “suffered from indigestion.”

  26. Re: Cucumber in German
    There’s also vergurken “spoil, make a mess”, Gurkentruppe as designation for a chaotic or incompetent group of people. I think that the association is due to cucumbers being bent, not straight. I didn’t know that this use of “Gurke” isn’t current in Austrian German.

  27. David Marjanović says:

    Oh yeah, I know these words from reading.

  28. Thank you for the explanation.

    Sorry JKR didn’t rescue the word greggles.

  29. Trond Engen says:
  30. In the first Harry Potter book, the writing had a lot more literary allusions than in the later books. The second and third, which are probably the best of the bunch, still have a reasonable number of mythological and literary references. After that, the allusions are virtually gone, while the prose becomes more and more overwrought, and the plot ideas begin to run thin. After a certainly point, the made up names in the story are no longer allusive or suggestive, just silly.

  31. My problem with Harry Potter qua fantasy book isn’t the prose style, or the lack of allusions. My problem is that, from the outset, it turns magic into technology. In this it’s like something written by a bloody sci-fi writer (it’s the same fundamental, categorical error as Arthur C. Clarke’s asinine remark about “sufficiently advanced technology”, probably the wrongest thing ever said in the history of wrong things).

    Quoting Ursula’s From Elfland to Poughkeepsie:

    …certain writers of fantasy are building six-lane highways and trailer parks with drive-in movies, so that the tourists can feel at home just as if they were back in Poughkeepsie.

    But the point about Elfland is that you are not at home there. It’s not Poughkeepsie. It’s different.

    […] Fantasy is nearer to poetry, to mysticism, and to insanity than naturalistic fiction is.

    Magic a thing of shadows and delirium, borne of drunken dancing round the nightfire. It’s not supposed to be prosaic. Quidditch, Nimbus 2000, The Daily Prophet etc. ain’t no poetry, mysticism, or insanity. This is deep Poughkeepsie country. Could there possibly be any ghosts more unghostly than the Hogwarts house ghosts, any magic more distinctly unmagical? Le Guin writes this of Leiber and Zelazny, but it applies as well:

    I am jerked back and forth between Elfland and Poughkeepsie; the characters lose coherence in my mind, and I lose confidence in them. […] it may be that, since fantasy is seldom taken seriously, at this particular era in this country, [these authors] are afraid to take it seriously. They don’t want to be caught believing in their own creations, getting all worked up about imaginary things, and so their humor becomes self-mocking, self-destructive.

  32. I thought Quidditch, Nimbus 2000, The Daily Prophet etc. made perfect sense given premise of the story – a hidden magical country in constant (daily!) contact with modern Britain.

    Some cultural borrowing is surely to be expected.

  33. Harry Potter is, of course, a fantasy, but even more importantly it is an adventure story (and a bit of Bildungsroman as well). Just like Dumas used past to set up most of his adventures and Jules Verne used elements of sci-fi (which he created on the spot). Wikipedia lists fantasy, drama, coming of age, and the British school story (which includes elements of mystery, thriller, adventure, horror and romance), but I think, adventure is actually the main part.

  34. Magic a thing of shadows and delirium, borne of drunken dancing round the nightfire. It’s not supposed to be prosaic.

    Well, yes; that is the magic of Lud-in-the-Mist (which I heartily recommend), and The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and even more so The Moon of Gomrath (ditto), and of “Smith of Wootton Major”, and many other works of fantasy. But it is not the magic of Gandalf, or of Galadriel (“I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew”), which is precise and technical, as is the magic of the Kalevala. No woo in any of those places.

    Nor is it, in fact, Le Guin’s magic of Earthsea, which is exactly like Galadriel’s: the right words in the right order will open the Western Gate (as Blake called it, the separation of love from art that makes Galateas impossible: creation is not procreation) and change the word in accordance with the maker’s (i.e. the poet’s) will. For Le Guin, magic, art, and science are all the same thing. Earthsea is not this world, but it is another world, not the Otherworld, as is Katherine Kurtz’s Eleven Kingdoms that Le Guin is speaking of. The world of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, on the other hand, stands on the boundary between magic as science and magic as woo: it’s supposed to be a science, but the woo keeps breaking out.

  35. Many thanks to J.W. Brewer and John Cowan for pointing out the likely source of both Hagrid and Dumbledore. I have read that Hagrid’s accent in the movie is “West Country,” consistent with the location of Casterbridge, which looks like Dorchester, Dorset. On the other hand, JKR grew up in rural Gloucestershire, either part of or adjacent to the West Country, so she might have wanted Hagrid to speak like some of her neighbors. Whether she actually heard any of them use “hagrid” is a different question. I would guess Hardy is the more likely source.

  36. David Eddyshaw says:

    In re Arthur C Clarke and sufficiently advanced technology: an interesting case is Gene Wolfe, who writes science fiction in which the characters, including the viewpoint characters, are under the misapprehension that they’re in in a fantasy.

  37. From Amazon:

    “Helen Hope Mirrlees was born in England in 1887. Mirrlees was a close friend of such literary lights as Walter de la Mare, T.S. Eliot, André Gide, Katharine Mansfield, Lady Ottoline Morrell, Bertrand Russell, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, and William Butler Yeats.”

    Sounds awfully inbred. Interesting that so much literature that has shaped the modern world comes from such a narrow locus.

    Where is a writer who wants to make their mark on the world expected to live now/

  38. Oops. Change the world, not the word.

  39. > I thought Quidditch, Nimbus 2000, The Daily Prophet etc. made perfect sense

    They do. That’s the problem.

  40. Fantasy is nearer to poetry, to mysticism, and to insanity than naturalistic fiction is.

    Whenever I read a bit of LeGuin, it makes me want to read more. What a wonderful writer!

  41. Indeed, the Master Summoner of Earthsea practices what is recognizably physics, seen from a different viewpoint (and here’s another bit for you, Hat):

    “‘He dealt with no illusion, only true magic, the summoning of such energies as light, and heat, and the force that draws the magnet, and those forces men perceive as weight, form, colour, sound: real powers, drawn from the immense fathomless energies of the universe, which no man’s spells or uses could exhaust or unbalance.”

  42. So I’m guessing it’s a typical case of a writer being especially dismissive of other writers who are a bit too close for comfort.

  43. Matthew Roth says:

    I thought Coltrane went for Cornish.

    The fifth book is clever. She transforms “Witengamot,” and the role of propechy is taken straight from ancient Greek drama, esp. Oedipus Rex.

  44. David Marjanović says:

    The names Lord Voldemorrt rejected.

    The name that must not be linked?

    Arthur C. Clarke’s asinine remark about “sufficiently advanced technology”, probably the wrongest thing ever said in the history of wrong things

    Are you sure?

  45. David Marjanović says:

    BTW, if you’re looking for a statement with a particularly high density of wrongness, how about:

    𗏁𗏇𗣃𘜼
    𗥃𗍫𘉨𗵆
    𘄡𘗁𗼑𘍞𗢼
    𗭩𗅰𗤒𗅋𗹑

    ¹ngwy₁ ²di₄ ²gwi₄ ²pho’₄
    ¹lyr’₃ ¹ny’₄ ¹dzwy₁ ¹shen₃
    ²seq₄ ²ja₃ ²lhiq₄ ¹oq₂ ²zeq₄
    ¹viq₁ ¹lwen₁ ¹kew₄ ¹mi₄ ¹chen₃

    Five character lines match [in pairs];
    Four [times] two [pentasyllabic half-lines] form stanzas.
    Clever and sharp [students] [can complete the text] in a whole month exactly;
    Dim-witted and slow [students] [can complete the text] in less than a year.

  46. @DM: That link to GG made my day. Thanks!

  47. Trond Engen says:

    The name that must not be linked?

    Black magic. But I know a stronger spell. Relinquo!

  48. Trond Engen says:

    (I thought I had a stronger spell, but i mis-spelled, and I now need the magic of the Hat.)

  49. Trond Engen says:

    ‘Tyke’ gave me something to think about. In Northern Norwegian, hainn Tykje is a common swearword and epithet for the devil.

  50. I agree with leoboiko. I read the first HP book and was heartily disappointed by the ending, which was basically that of a video game — pull the right levers in the right order to defeat the boss. Not a hint of numen anywhere.

    Poughkeepsie, on the other hand, has always struck me as a bad choice on Le Guin’s part because it sounds like a very magical name indeed. It wouldn’t be out of place in Lud-in-the-Mist.

  51. (I thought I had a stronger spell, but i mis-spelled, and I now need the magic of the Hat.)

    I have cast my spell, and have expelled your spell from the cave where it was spelunking.

  52. ‘Tyke’ gave me something to think about. In Northern Norwegian, hainn Tykje is a common swearword and epithet for the devil.

    Doubtful. Etymonline and the OED agree it is a loan from Old Norse tík ‘bitch’. The y just represents the long vowel after the Great Vowel Shift has gotten a hold of it.

    Poughkeepsie

    Quoth WP: “The name derives from a word in the Wappinger language, roughly U-puku-ipi-sing, meaning ‘the reed-covered lodge by the little-water place’, referring to a spring or stream feeding into the Hudson River south of the present downtown area.” The demonyms are Poughkeepsian, Apokeepsian, and Dorpian (cf. Dutch dorp ‘village’, cognate to English thorpe).

  53. David Marjanović says:

    Relinquo!

    This is beautiful.

    U-puku-ipi-sing

    So the gh is purely ornamental? I haz a sad.

  54. marie-lucie says:

    U-puku-ipi-sing

    I guess “Pukeepsie” or “Pookeepsie” would have suggested unsavoury connotations. But why not a final ing?

  55. The entry on the adjacent Town of Poughkeepsie (New York State is exhaustively partitioned into Cities, Towns, and Indian reservations) says a little more:

    The name is derived from the native term Uppuqui (oo-POO-kee) meaning “lodge-covered”, plus ipis meaning “little water”, plus ing meaning “place”, all of which translates to “the reed-covered lodge by the little water place”, or Uppuqui-ipis-ing. This later evolved into Apokeepsing, then into Poughkeepsing, and finally Poughkeepsie.

    But this is New York State, which has the Taconic Mountains and the Taconic Parkway, but the town of Taghkanic, all pronounced /təˈkɑnɪk/, and all named after an Indian apparently named “Taughannock”. In the country as a whole, we have things named “Allegheny”, “Alleghany”, “Allegeny”, and for all I know “Allagany”, all /æləˈgeɪni/; the first and least intuitive spelling being the most usual.

  56. I guess we’d better (we better?) not get started on “Youghiogheny.”

  57. January First-of-May says:

    Poughkeepsie, on the other hand, has always struck me as a bad choice on Le Guin’s part because it sounds like a very magical name indeed. It wouldn’t be out of place in Lud-in-the-Mist.

    My uncle had lived in Poughkeepsie for several years (then in Houston for a while, and now in Cupertino).
    Somehow, that name still has quite a bit of a magical distant feel to me, however

  58. ” […] she did not quaintly tell the servants next morning that she had been “hag-rid,” but that she had “suffered from indigestion.”

    Curious!

    The words hagríða (v) and hagreið (n) definitely sound like Old Norse but I’ve never heard of them before and their meaning totally eludes me.To begin with, “hag” (hagur in the nominative) doesn’t mean witch or evil-looking old woman in ON, it means prospects or prosperity or something along those lines. It’s a word that’s near impossible to translate unless you’ve got the context.

    Googling yielded only one result: a Norn language glossary. Apparently “hagrið” (said to come from ON) means “ride on the hill, beating the bounds”.

    I had never heard of “beating the bounds” so I had to look THAT up. The quickie definition is “mark parish boundaries by walking round them and striking certain points with rods” but Wikipedia has a long entry.

    It occurs to me that the “hag” in hagríða comes from hagi, which means pasture.

    Perhaps the Scottish made up this compound word from two ON words, hagi and reið. I don’t think the practice or ritual of beating the bounds ever existed in Norway or other Nordic countries.

  59. Trond Engen says:

    Heh. It didn’t occur to me that the word might be of Norse origin. A hagreið “pasture ride” .-> “beating the bounds” is straightforward enough, maybe coined by Scandinavians in Britain? But the meaning “ride on the hills” suggests that the first element was either haugr “mound, hullock, small hill” or hár “high”, … but I see that there’s a word háreið “oarlock”.

    But I still think “ridden by a hag”, with parallel semantics to Mod. Sc. mareritt “nightmare” is a better explanation for the word used in Harry Potter.

  60. Given that “night hag” is an English term for a mythological creature like an incubus, which sits on you while you are sleeping and thus “causes” sleep paralysis,* I can’t see hag-rid as having anything other than the transparent etymology. (Based on Web hits, the night hag seems to be an example of a genuine folkloric creature whose fame was tremendously enhanced by its inclusion in the Monster Manual.)

    *Sleep paralysis is something I had heard plenty about, but I had only experienced it myself for the first time in the last month. I’ve had to start taking several medications that affect my sleep patterns, and for the first time, I had the clear sensation of being paralyzed during a nightmare. After I woke up panting, it was a real lightbulb moment.

  61. J.W. Brewer says:

    Gonna speculate that whatever may have happened more recently Thos. Hardy’s usage was not influenced by that of Gary Gygax.

  62. Interestingly enough, another self-consciously eschewed dialect word on the same page is “dumbledores,” suggesting that even if this is the only page of published pre-Rowling English literature with the word “hagrid” on it, it may well be a page that Rowling has studied.

    Impressive! A good starting-point for another PhD thesis in harrypotterology (in addition to the five thousand or so already defended or still in the works).

  63. In Tolkien’s Shire, the Shirriffs (the nearest thing to law enforcement) were originally only twelve for Inside Work, three in each of the Four Farthings, and a larger number, “varying at need”, to beat the bounds of the Shire as a whole, not ritually but actually watching for intruders. These were known punningly as Bounders, a word that the first Dutch translator rendered as poenen ‘cads’, which is indeed what bounder means or used to mean.

  64. Trond Engen says:

    Forgot this:

    Me: ‘Tyke’ gave me something to think about. In Northern Norwegian, hainn Tykje is a common swearword and epithet for the devil.

    John Cowan: Doubtful. Etymonline and the OED agree it is a loan from Old Norse tík ‘bitch’. The y just represents the long vowel after the Great Vowel Shift has gotten a hold of it.

    Yes. But I was thinking as much about the implications in the other direction. I mentioned NoNo hainn Tykje = normalized han Tyke, i.e. the man’s name Tyke (of Tycho Brahe fame), but it’s actually just as common in the form tykjen = tyken “the devil”. I’ve thought of the definite noun as secondary after other epithets like fanden and farken. But if ON tík already carried the meaning “unpleasant man”, it could be the other way around. I think I would have to explain the y and the second tone forms with interference from the name, though, which severely hurts the economy of the explanation.

  65. On my reading of the OED, the sense ‘low-bred, lazy, mean, surly, or ill-mannered fellow; a boor’ developed in English, though of course it may have crossed back over to Norse. Both human and canine are first attested at the beginning of the 15C.

  66. Just stumbled on something related to the discussion:

    > The most popular living fantasy writer in the world doesn’t even especially like fantasy novels. It wasn’t until after Sorcerer’s Stone was published that it even occurred to her that she had written one. “That’s the honest truth,” she says. “You know, the unicorns were in there. There was the castle, God knows. But I really had not thought that that’s what I was doing [=writing fantasy]. And I think maybe the reason that it didn’t occur to me is that I’m not a huge fan of fantasy.” Rowling has never finished The Lord of the Rings. She hasn’t even read all of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia novels, which her books get compared to a lot.

    The tone is a bit harsh; I don’t think “not reading fantasy” is a personal fault, and it’s perfectly OK not to finish LotR if that’s not your thing (half the fun in Tolkien is in the philology anyway). Being an outsider can lead to great things, too; my favorite vampire movie is Let the Right One In, and my favorite spy movie is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, both directed by a guy who was pointedly unfamiliar with their respective genres, resulting in a fresh approach. But I’ll agree with Rowling’s own intuition that what she was writing wasn’t fantasy, for some deeper meaning of the term; it’s a fantasy-themed adventure (similarly to how Star Wars doesn’t really feel like sci-fi, despite the scenario and props – in fact I’d even claim that Star Wars is closer to fantasy than Harry Potter; not especially good fantasy, mind you, but even taking into account the midichlorians fiasco, the Force does retain something awe-inspiring about it.)

  67. I’d even claim that Star Wars is closer to fantasy than Harry Potter

    Yup. Much as I loved it when I first saw it, I never thought it was sf; it’s pure space opera (which is inherently full of fantasy/adventure elements).

  68. I thought Harry Potter was mystery fiction.

    Closer to spy thriller at times.

  69. It’s weird to talk about the director of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as being inexperienced in the genre. The genre of spy fiction seems, to me, to have next to nothing to do with John la Carre’s novels. Spy stories, as a genre, are dominated by totally unrealistic stories in the vein of James Bond. I don’t think having an experienced “spy” director working on a stale beer spy story would be a good idea. In essence, the genre had moved on to become something entirely difference from the very realistic stories written by a former British spy, who only had to turn to writing fiction because he was burned by Kim Philby.

    The James Bond films themselves, have had a rough trajectory of becoming increasingly silly and unrealistic. In Doctor No, the story is pretty realistic, and the existence of the villain’s elaborate underground base is explicitly noted as being absurd and a clear sign of mad megalomania. From Russia With Love could still pass as a fairly realistic story, but by Goldfinger, the stories have passed well outside the realm of plausibility. Three decades later, I went to the premier showing of Goldeneye at the Cheri theater in Back Bay, Boston. Bond’s opening escape, which violated Galileo’s observation that everything falls at the same rate (the weak equivalence principle, to us physicists), prompted excited cheers from some some of the crowd, which were rapid drowned out by hisses from the MIT and Harvard students in attendance. (I would like to credit the MIT students, of which I was one, more; however, hissing is more of a Harvard tradition, and so the Harvard kids get at least equal credit in my book.)

  70. David Marjanović says:

    How widespread is hissing, BTW? “Boo” seems universal in the West, but I don’t think I’ve ever even heard hissing, only read “Boo! Hiss” in English-language sources.

  71. It’s rare in my experience. There was an awkward moment during the 2016 Democratic campaign when Clinton supporters at a private fundraiser hissed at a black activist who had interrupted her; the general reaction seemed to be that hissing was a weird rich-people thing.

  72. I have certainly done it at the theater, both in irony (hissing the villain of a conscious melodrama) and not (hissing a particularly bad performance). It’s pretty much futile nowadays, because people will cheer very loudly at anything and even give standing ovations.

  73. David Marjanović says:

    at a private fundraiser

    Oh, that. I watched that when it was fresh. The [s] is so quiet that I misinterpreted it as a “shut up” gesture.

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