Harry Potter in Many Tongues.

Bathrobe sent me a link to Carly Jaddoa’s webpage featuring audio clips of Harry Potter translations:

Below are native and second-language speakers reading the 1st Paragraph of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in their own language(s). […]

The Authorized Languages of Potter:
Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Asturian, Azerbaijani, Basque, Bengali, Bosnian, Breton, Bulgarian, Catalan, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, UK English, US English, Estonian, Faroese, Filipino, Finnish, French, West Frisian, Galician, Georgian, German, Low German, Modern Greek, Ancient Greek, Greenlandic (Kalaallisut), Gujarati, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Luxembourgish, Macedonian, Marathi, Malay, Malayalam, Mongolian, Montenegrin, Nepali, Norwegian, Occitan, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Scots, Serbian, Sinhala, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Tibetan, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Valencian, Vietnamese, Welsh​

It is, of course, catnip to the likes of me; the only thing that would have made it better would be providing the texts so you could follow along, but you can often google the titles and find Amazon pages with “Look inside the book.” And it’s just plain fun to hear Armenian, Georgian, and the like, even if you can’t see the texts. (Honorable mention goes to the Polish reader, who provided a video of the text — it’s a little blurry, but better than nothing.) As expected, the Brazilian Portuguese was far more intelligible than the European Portuguese. The only thing that made me grumpy was the Ancient Greek version, whose reader not only pronounced it as if it were Modern Greek but clearly did not understand the ancient language, since particles were joined with the wrong word in the reading. But never mind, that’s just a quibble: click through and enjoy!

Comments

  1. It’s a striking coincidence that like the Romans, Pericles had the same accent as Johnson, the current* British PM.

    *Today (Sunday)

  2. That website’s list of authorized translations is missing Hawaiian, translated by Keao NeSmith, who has done several children’s classics (his Alice translation is in Alice in a World of Wonderlands, discussed at Language Hat in 2015). Here’s a magazine interview where he briefly discusses some of his choices in translating European animals and mythology:

    Names of people were left as is—and I considered centaurs people—but names of creatures were changed to Hawaiian. Fluffy, the three-headed dog, is Peto Huluhulu. Hedwig, Harry’s owl, is Lehua.

    An interesting plus is that I got to reuse terms I created for creatures in previous books I translated (particularly Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit) since such things as goblins, trolls and dormice appear in those books as well. Then I got to create terms for centaurs, werewolves and vampires for Harry Potter since the Hawaiian language did not have terms for those before.

    And here’s a little video interview where you can see and hear a tiny snippet of the Hawaiian text, although it’s not the same paragraph as the rest.

  3. Is it just me, or the velars, as per Wikipedia, in Filipino/Pilipino/Tagalog lean heavily to uvulars?
    The other day, I overheard two guys in a hotel lobby. They looked East Asian, but not Vietnamese or Thai. At first, I couldn’t figure the language, and then I heard ‘Ako din’ (Me too), which is Tagalog.

  4. It was interesting (to me anyway) to compare the Serbian and Croatian versions. Even the title ends up different – CRO keeps it simple with “kamen mudraca” (the stone of the sages) whereas SR opts for “kamen mudrosti” (the stone of wisdom), which is both pointless and misleaading, as if the stone contained and/ or conferred wisdom. (Still better than “sorcerer’s stone”, however),.

    “The boy who lived” becomes “decak koji je prezivio” (the boy who survived) in SR and “djecak koji je ostao ziv (the boy who stayed alive) in CRO. I prefer the second one as it establishes more strongly the centrality of that event to the entire series, even if the reader is still ignorant of the particulars.

    Privet Drive is rendered as “Kalinin Prilaz” in CRO and Šimširova ulica in SR, rather literal translations meaning roughly “decorative bush street/lane”. But the name in English is above all a socioeconomic signifier, which these are utterly lacking in. Street naming paradigms are different between the UK and the former Yugoslavia, why not just keep Privet the way they kept, eg “Dursley”

    But ultimately, I have to say that the SR version renders the tone and style of the opening far more faithfully – CRO is a bit stiff and wooden and translates the kind of sarcastic “proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” as “They would thank you if you told them that that they were perfectly normal.” The big downside with the SR version is, honestly, the speaker, who sounds non-native or like someone who moved abroad years ago and had some truly bizarre pronunciations.

    And I know in general the difficult thing about HP is taken to be all the made up terminology but I think that stuff is easy – the hard part is find a a way to explain English cultural assumptions and norms that the book is replete with – such as the race essentialism that is at the centre of the books – without turning into a 3000 page annotated manuscript. Unlike Tolkien, JK seems much less uptight about allowing changes to Character place and magical object names or relevant powers/properties (in fact in many ways she’s been at the forefront of his herself, pronouncing various characters gay without so much a hint of that in the novels).

    Anyway, fun quiz. For all my constant griping about these books I genuinely like them (even love them), and it’s heartwarming to see how many different countries and cultures they’ve make their marks in.

  5. Great comment, thanks!

  6. the boy who stayed alive

    It’s the same in the Japanese translation:
    生き残った男の子
    ikinokotta otokonoko
    ikiru: live, be alive
    nokoru: stay, remain

  7. Even the title ends up different – CRO keeps it simple with “kamen mudraca” (the stone of the sages) whereas SR opts for “kamen mudrosti” (the stone of wisdom), which is both pointless and misleaading, as if the stone contained and/ or conferred wisdom.

    Are these actually the correct terms in each language for the Philosopher’s Stone? Remember that this is an alchemical concept with some centuries of history. The book is not about some rock that happened to belong to a deep-thinking sort of person. Presumably there’s already a long-established term in CRO and SR for “Philosopher’s Stone”.

  8. Hello.
    This has been a joint project between @alltheprettybooks and myself. I’m glad to see many people listening and enjoying this! And if you wish to do a recording yourself, feel free to contact @alltheprettybooks and we’ll make sure it gets included :).

  9. The gentleman who read the Scots is also the translator! As well as the author of the acclaimed Scots cyberpunk novel But’n’Ben A-Go-Go.

    This page reminds me of one of my favorite collections, Alice in a World of Wonderlands, which was talked about here back in 2015.

  10. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    Serbian wikipedia gives ‘kamen mudrosti’, Croatian gives both ‘kamen mudraca’ and ‘kamen mudrosti’, but uses the first as the name of the page.

  11. There’s a well-established term in AmE for ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, but that didn’t deter Scholastic from avoiding it. Titles belong to the publisher, not the author.

  12. Well, I’m pretty sure at this point Rowling could tell the publisher where to get off, but of course then she was a nobody.

  13. Wiki:
    Scholastic Corporation bought the U.S. rights at the Bologna Book Fair in April 1997 for US$105,000, an unusually high sum for a children’s book. Scholastic’s Arthur Levine thought that “philosopher” sounded too archaic for readers and after some discussion including the proposed title “Harry Potter and the School of Magic” [Harry Potter & the School of Athens would have worked], the American edition was published in September 1998 under the title Rowling suggested, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Rowling later said that she regretted this change and would have fought it if she had been in a stronger position at the time. Philip Nel has pointed out that the change lost the connection with alchemy, and the meaning of some other terms changed in translation, for example from “crumpet” to “muffin”. While Rowling accepted the change from both the English “mum” and Seamus Finnigan’s Irish variant “mam” to “mom” in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, she vetoed this change in the later books, which was then reversed in later editions of Philosopher’s Stone. However, Nel considered that Scholastic’s translations were considerably more sensitive than most of those imposed on British books of the time, and that some other changes could be regarded as useful copyedits. Since the British editions of early titles in the series were published months prior to the American versions, some American readers became familiar with the British versions owing to having bought them from online retailers.

  14. some American readers became familiar with the British versions owing to having bought them from online retailers.

    Just as I used to buy the imported UK versions of Beatles records, snob that I was.

  15. Hi!

    I enjoyed reading the comments! My collaborator, Harrison has already replied above as well. We have worked very hard on this and have had the best time and enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people.

    I know the Hawaiian is missing in the list. I keep forgetting it to add it 🙂. I’ve been searching for a Hawaiian speaker as well since the book came out, but without luck. If any of you know of one, please reach out to me through my website or via my email. I can’t wait to add that language.

    I’ve wanted to add pics of the text as one of my favorite things is looking at text s in different languages while a speaker reads it. It fascinates me. Time has been hard to find lately. So hopefully that’ll happen soon.

  16. ajay, like you I checked wiki to find out if the historical term for philosopher’s stone differs between SR and CRO. However, I suspect the results might be tainted by the novel (FWIW both the SR and CRO and the Serbo-Croatian wiki duly list both names but I don’t know how good the historical basis for this is).

    Re: the changes made by Scholastic, I always felt that a lot of the appeal of HP was that it was steeped in a certain kind of British millieu, however fantastic or imaginary. Changing, e.g., “crumpet” to “muffin” is not only pointless but actively counterproductive because it undercuts the uber-British gestalt of the thing. E.g. the flying car is a Ford Anglia and back then it was not that easy to instantly look up images of old cars – but that type of stuff is catnip especially to younger readers, and I dare say changing it to a “Ford Escort” makes plain why making a term more recongizable for the reader also impoverishes the novel.

  17. Likewise, my generation in London bought Atlantic and Stax imports. And the one before mine bought Chess and other labels from Chicago, but I don’t know where they found the money. Those kids (Clapton, Richards, Jagger and the rest) were supposed to have been poor.

    changing it to a “Ford Escort”
    Seriously? It’s a difficult compromise, though. The Anglia https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/24122/lot/269/ (I had one, it was crap) has a backwards rear window that made it an icon in the 1960s for Rowling’s generation, but it wasn’t that well known perhaps to British ten year olds in the 1990s so it loses that familiarity. It would’ve been unknown in the US.

  18. Hi, Carly!

    I’ve wanted to add pics of the text as one of my favorite things is looking at texts in different languages while a speaker reads it. It fascinates me. Time has been hard to find lately. So hopefully that’ll happen soon.

    That’s great to hear; if you do it, let me know and I’ll post an update.

  19. fr:WP sez the French title Harry Potter à l’école des sorciers was because the editor thought it « plus fort et plus explicite que la traduction littérale de l’anglais pour un public français ».

  20. What edition has a Ford Escort?

  21. The British Sgt Pepper had heavier weight paper and much better colour printing. I was shocked, shocked when I first saw the US version even though it was cooler at the time, being American.

  22. PlasticPaddy says:

    @ajp crown
    Having been something of a dark horse in my youth, I can explain how at least women wore clothes outside their income: one bought the shoes, one the skirt or the trousers, one the blouse, one the jacket. With a pool of several Irish families, stylish and varied looks were created. I was even called on to supply my navy wool jumper, either for a “look at little me in this” trope or (more likely) for the cold walk home.

  23. Brett, none of them (AFAIK) have a Ford Escort, I was trying to come up with an analogy for the crumpet->muffin and mum->mom changes the American version by Scholastic is full of.

    AJP, that’s cool that you used to have an Anglia! My memory of reading the book in the late 90s that even its very name invokes an aging bucket of bolts (plus it’s owned by the Weasleys).

  24. Both the Welsh and Irish renderings seem to me as having strong English accent (and the Irish version was read excruciatingly slowly). I thought this was pretty normal nowadays with Irish (the accent, not the slow pace), but was surprising to me in the Welsh version. Are there Welsh speakers around to share their opinion about it?

    Also, the “Ancient Greek” version is pronounced the modern way, which is a bit disappointing.

  25. A friend of mine had an Anglia years ago, and it had one magical property. If you listened for when the engine speed was just right, you could shift from first to second gear without using the clutch. My friend was inordinately fond of telling his passengers about this remarkable feature and then providing a demonstration. (I don’t know whether this was the three-speed gearbox or the later four-speed one).

  26. There’s a somewhat more fluent Irish rendition of the opening sentence at 9m40s of this podcast

  27. Seong of Baekje says:

    the boy who stayed alive

    It’s the same in the Japanese translation:
    生き残った男の子
    ikinokotta otokonoko
    ikiru: live, be alive
    nokoru: stay, remain

    In fact, 生き残る (ikinokoru) is the standard way of saying “to survive” in Japanese.

  28. David Eddyshaw says:

    @prase:

    I agree, the Welsh is surely being read by a second-language speaker. Good for her for trying, though.

  29. Is it just me, or the velars, as per Wikipedia, in Filipino/Pilipino/Tagalog lean heavily to uvulars?.

    It’s not just you! I think there’s regional and generational variation, but for a lot of speakers they do get quite back, and sometimes affricate.

  30. David L, I have a memory of not bothering using the clutch for the high Anglia gears. Mine was the pale green Estate model. By the 90s it would as you say, nemanja, have been decrepit but in 1974 it was a bargain at £50, especially compared to my other cars. In 1971 my Mini’s previous owner had allowed half its floor to rust away so you could watch the road surface whizz past underneath. That one was only £25. The white Renault 4 van wouldn’t start and had rust issues too but also some lovely unusual French details.

    Plastic, I’m still at 66 plagued by women borrowing my shirts and socks and not returning them, but those cooperative outfits belong in a novel. It’s a wonderful recollection. And you a Protestant, I thought you were the well-to-do ones.

  31. Now I’m going to be haunted by images of a 21-year-old AJP Crown scooting around in his Ford Anglia…

  32. J.W. Brewer says:

    I would just like to point out that while the jokiness of the character name “Ford Prefect” in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy may have been rather more opaque to us American readers/listeners (and may be becoming more opaque to younger British readers as time goes on?), no one felt obligated to change it for our benefit.

  33. However, when they made the Hitchhiker’s Guide movie (released 2005), they did make a point to explain the joke—which produced a hilarious flashback scene in which Ford tries to shake hands with a car and nearly gets run over.

  34. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    The Scots as read by an American is… odd.

    I mean, there’s no reason why a speaker of some non-Scottish form of English shouldn’t also be a Scots speaker, but that’s not it – it just seems to be an English speaker guessing at pronunciation from the spelling.

    (But I do like ‘haivers like yon’ – and the whole this/that/thon distinction. My grandma would also have set things she disapproved of at a distance by calling them ‘thon’!)

  35. the jokiness of the character name “Ford Prefect” in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy may have been rather more opaque to us American readers/listeners (and may be becoming more opaque to younger British readers as time goes on?),

    When I first read the books at the age of about 10 in the 80s (and therefore still qualified as a younger British reader) I had no idea what a Ford Prefect was. I had to ask my grandmother who explained that it was a sort of car. I’d never seen one (still haven’t) and never come across any mention of them that wasn’t directly related to the Hitchhiker’s Guide. And that was only a decade, if that, after the radio series aired.

  36. Kate Bunting says:

    Ford Prefects haven’t been made since 1961, so there can’t be many still about.

    When I first heard a reference to a prefect at school (in the late ’50s) I was mystified, as I had only heard the word in connection with cars (I think my aunt had one at the time).

    Incidentally, I can’t get the sound clips on the website to play (although the sound on my computer is working).

  37. A Swedish sculptor I knew at art school had a pale blue Ford Prefect. Always driven very fast, it was a great car. Its licence plate,123 BLU, may have become more valuable than the car itself. Last seen by me in c.1975 it was considered ancient even then.

  38. J.W. Brewer says:

    Hitchhiker’s Guide first premiered as a radio thing in the UK in ’78, sez the internet, and I probably first heard it in the US in I think maybe late 80 or early 81, when I would have been 15. I knew at the time the names of at least a handful of prominent-in-their-day but long-discontinued American car models (the Edsel, the Corvair, etc.) that you didn’t see very frequently on the streets anymore. It seems I guess plausible but not certain that a hypothetical British me would have known of the Prefect in that sort of way — and I was probably materially younger than the age of whatever assumed listener the original radio series had been produced for.

  39. Ford Prefect is an odd sort of name. Perhaps he was thinking of president Ford (1974-77) who in his own words was a Ford, not a Lincoln. Morris Minor might have been better. Rover Vitesse and Bentley Arnage are also good names but they’d give a Lincoln-type image.

  40. Rover Vitesse is more of a James Bond name.

  41. James Bond’s dog, maybe

  42. Or Miss Moneypenny’s dog. I can’t see Bond having the time to take care of a dog what with his world-ranging lifestyle.

  43. It’s a cat-based show, Pussy Galore and that white Persian. Dogs are jumping the shark.

  44. @John Cowan re Scholastic’s changing the title.

    For me it is highly ironic that Scholastic felt ‘philosopher’s stone’ unlikely to appeal to young American readers. I actually first learnt of the philosopher’s stone from a Donald Duck comic!

    Would it have flown if Scholastic had retained the original name? We will never know. But had it flopped, the whole trajectory of the Harry Potter phenomenon would have been pretty different.

  45. Ford Prefect spent 10 years on Earth before its 1978 demolition; I doubt House Minority Leader Ford was well known in the UK, but maybe that gives it a comedic potential of its own.

    “Morris Minor and the Majors” had a novelty UK hit in 1987; Mr Minor’s efforts to avoid being a one-hit wonder culminated in a 1997 assault on the Albanian charts featuring Norman Wisdom and Tim Rice.

  46. January First-of-May says:

    To me, “Ford Prefect” always seemed to be a plausible enough name – a little on the fancy side, but still quite reasonable. Weirdly, I kept this idea even after I found out that it was supposed to be a car model.

    I guess Lada Kalina could be a plausible-ish (female) Russian name (on around the same level as how Ford Prefect kind of works as an English name).

    And on the subject of kalina…

    Privet Drive is rendered as “Kalinin Prilaz” in CRO and Šimširova ulica in SR, rather literal translations meaning roughly “decorative bush street/lane”.

    Apparently, the former is exactly literal (surprisingly to me, as the Russian cognate would have meant a very different tree), while the latter appears to refer to box trees.

    For what it’s worth, the old Russian translation rendered it as Тисовая улица (literally “yew street”), and the new Russian translation is (almost) exactly literal – Бирючинная аллея (literally “privet alley”, but the tree is fairly obscure in Russia, so the readers mostly just got confused).

  47. Richardguru has not been around here lately. However, I just remembered that he had this wireless essay about the irony of a company called “Scholastic” changing “Philosopher’s Stone” to something that sounded less obscure.

  48. There are countless ways of translating things. The Boy Who Lived, in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Mongolian. It seems like yesterday that I did this page. In fact it was 2001 (looks it, too), although Korean and Mongolian have been added in the meantime.

  49. I dread adding anything truly exotic (like Hawaiian) because EVERYTHING would have to be drastically rewritten.

  50. January First-of-May says:

    if they had only left it as a stoned Philosopher!

    I want to use this opportunity to mention that one of my favorite books, Порри Гаттер и Каменный Философ (that is to say, Porry Hatter and the Stone Philosopher* – at least once mistakenly referred to in online news as …the Stoned Philosopher), had recently (June 19th, 2019) finally been – if so far only unofficially and preliminarily – translated into English.

    The translation does have some problems – as should be expected, since it is so preliminary. It is, however, still of (surprisingly) excellent quality.

    I’m not willing to link to the translation directly from here, at least for now (as that might result in too much traffic), but it is linked from the June 19th post on the VK group for Porry Hatter fans. Any LH commenters and readers are welcome to read, and possibly enjoy.

     
    *) as in a philosopher actually literally made of stone – he is a recurring, but otherwise fairly minor, character

  51. VK GROUP is an ISO 9001 company engaged in manufacturing precision moulds and dies for plastic injection moulding.

    I see.

  52. January First-of-May says:

    I see.

    I meant VK group, obviously, but you probably already knew that.

    (In retrospect, I should probably have said “VK.com group”.)

  53. Complete list of differences between the British and American texts of Harry Potter and the Philorceror’s Stone

  54. A lot of the differences seem pretty trivial.

  55. Does the Faroese version really pronounce ‘privet’ as ‘private’, or is that my imagination?

  56. And the Basque!

  57. January 1 May: [Privet]…appears to refer to box trees.

    No, no, NO. And they’re both bushes rather than trees, but more importantly in Britain box (Buxus sempervirens) and privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) carry quite different social baggage. Having a privet hedge in your front garden is like waving a flag saying ‘We are drab and conventionally lower-middle class with 1950s values and no interest in aesthetics’. The sight of a ragged Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’, the privet with yellowish leaves is particularly irritating for me. Privet is usually trimmed, the tightness depending on how lazy the gardener is, but box has smaller leaves that are denser than privet, so it’s preferred for decorative parterres in large gardens and for topiary. Nowadays every upwardly mobile arsehole in England wants a box parterre, just like they want a Range Rover, private medical insurance and a house in Spain.

  58. I wonder if there is Señora Mercedes Benz somewhere

  59. PlasticPaddy says:

    @sfr
    Try mannheim (if hyphenated first names are allowed)

  60. No, no, NO.

    You’ve misread the comment, which wasn’t that “[Privet]…appears to refer to box trees” but that “[Serbian Šimširova]…appears to refer to box trees.”

  61. Oh!

    Never mind.

  62. the tree is fairly obscure in Russia

    Maybe it is just me, but I think “privet” meaning an evergreen bush is pretty obscure in the U.S. I was completely unfamiliar with that meaning until just this minute (but I have also never had much of an interest in landscaping or gardening). If I thought about it all I think I assumed “privet” was a joke, playing off of “privy”.

  63. Maybe it is just me, but I think “privet” meaning an evergreen bush is pretty obscure in the U.S.

    Not just you; I’m vaguely aware that it’s used for some sort of greenery, but that’s it. Never used it myself.

  64. Indicating the plant’s obscurity to Americans, I remember its name being misspelled “private” in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

  65. Jean-Michel says:

    As a young American reader of The Hitchhiker’s Guide, I assumed that “Ford Prefect” was a double joke where he’d named himself after a car because he assumed it was a dominant life form on Earth, and then “Prefect” was a misspelling of “Perfect.” I felt a little foolish when I discovered the truth but thanks to the internet I’ve since learned that I was far from the only one.

  66. There was a privet hedge, so named, in the yard of the house I spent most of my first decade in. Ligustrum ovalifolium matches my memories very well.

  67. @Jean-Michel: I had exactly the same misconception!

  68. Shimshirova seems like a cognate to Bulgarian chimshir (which wikipedia tells me is “boxwood)”. I can imagine a street in Bulgaria called Chimshirova. It would be ulitsa Chimshirova, though. Chimshirova ulitsa would be a description of the street.

  69. Jean-Michel: I remember reading a satirical article in the ’80s that aliens would assume cars are the dominant form of life on Earth. It was in one of those few magazines that were allowed to translate from beyond the Iron curtain. Made little sense to me of course, there not being many cars in 80’s Bulgaria. I assume it was inspired by HHTG.

    And I assumed the same thing about Prefect vs. Perfect when I read HHTG in the ’90s.

  70. David Eddyshaw says:

    I remember reading a satirical article in the ’80s that aliens would assume cars are the dominant form of life on Earth.

    I’ve often had this feeling when descending to land in an airliner (over Europe, at any rate.) You see motor traffic bustling about for ages before you can make out any individual human beings.

  71. Señora Mercedes Benz somewhere

    Along with Gottlieb Daimler (spelled Däumler by his father), who pretty much invented petrol driven engines with Wilhelm Maybach, and Karl Benz who also invented some car stuff and whose own firm merged with Daimler’s in the 1920s after they were both dead, the cars were named, starting in 1902, after a young Jewish Austrian girl Mercédès Jellinek. I don’t know if she ever met Karl Benz.

  72. A tourist came in from Orbitville,
    parked in the air, and said:

    The creatures of this star
    are made of metal and glass.

           Those soft shapes,
    shadowy inside

    the hard bodies—are they
    their guts or their brains?
    May Swenson, 1963

  73. I only knew “Mercedes” as a car brand when I was a boy, so I was quite amused when I first encountered it as a personal name, in a Karl May novel if I recall correctly.

  74. There was one name that I definitely only knew as a car brand, with no idea what the word had originally referred to: “Mustang.” I was very confused when I watched a nature documentary about the American Southwest, and they started talking about the wild horses. “Mercedes” I also knew solely as an automobile brand at first; however, I must have figured out that it was a personal name before I actually encountered it as one (probably first in The Count of Monte Cristo).

  75. To answer the question of kamen mudraca v kamen mudrosti, a google books text search shows that both were equally common in 19th century Croatian. No Serbian works came up in the search.

    It’s probably a loan translation of the German Stein der Weisen.

  76. Father Jape says:

    Have you tried searching in Cyrillic? 😀
    As far as I can see both versions come up in Serbian works too, with kamen mudrosti being more frequent.

  77. Trond Engen says:

    Norw, de vises stein, obviously. Also Harry Potter og de vises stein. The urge to dumb down in translation is luckily not irresistible.

  78. The Croatian translation for quidditch is an inspired choice: metloboj, from metla = broom and boj=contest. On the other hand bezjak is the translation for muggle. Bezjak was historically a pejorative term for the Kajkavian population located between Kupa and Mura rivers. It also has a meaning of someone stupid or rough. It literally means “without eggs” (eggs = nuts). I doubt the term is well known in Croatia today, so kudos to the translator for reusing a historical word. However, i can’t help but think that it would’ve been better to invent a new word, rather than repurposing an obsolete one.

  79. Lars (the original one) says:

    Mercédès — I found the Daimler AG page about her which consistently spells her name like that. (À la maniere française despite being born in Austria). The story is (as always) a bit more complicated — her father Emil Jellinek was a rich car enthusiast who commissioned a lot of cars from Daimler and tried to use his influence to help their sales, to which end he adopted the pseudonym M Mercédès and participated in races; one of the Daimler model series was then called the Mercedes (without accents) to build on that. A few years later he even changed his last name to Jellinek-Mercédès — and the whole family with him, at least according to one genealogy site, though they miss the opportunity to list Mercédès Jellinek-Mercédès as such; maybe she was excused from being named after herself.

    So was the car named for the girl who was 10 at the time and not introduced to society, or for her father, the famous racing driver M Mercédès? The ultimate source is the Spanish girl’s name that Mercédès Adrienne Ramona Manuela Jellinek was given, of course, but the popular version that the car was named directly after the owner’s daughter is not strictly true. (Never mind that Jellinek was never an owner of the car factory).

    I had no luck in finding any original documents online UPDATE: A copy of her birth certificate archived from the Mercedes brand site in Cyprus (!) shows no accents. Do I submit a move request for the WP page? Will it improve anybody’s life to know?

  80. Of course it will! It has already improved mine.

  81. Is Mercédès an Occitan rather than a French form? It’s generally said to be a Spanish borrowing, but I don’t know what form Latin mercedes ‘mercies’ would have taken in Occitan.

    Ystefan?

  82. David Eddyshaw says:

    Merces, according to Paden.

  83. David Marjanović says:

    Of course it will! It has already improved mine.

    + 1

    one of the Daimler model series was then called the Mercedes (without accents)

    And consequently given a spelling-pronunciation in German with /ˈt͡seː/ in the middle.

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