Translating Harry Potter into Bengali

Who hasn’t read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies? But judging by the Bengali translation of the books and the dubbed films, it would seem as though the translators had no idea what the series is about. Let me mention some hilarious, yet major, mistakes.

In the first book and movie, the story revolves around the Sorcerer’s Stone — a magical object that can transform metals into gold and make you immortal. But if you watched the version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that was dubbed into Bengali, you would almost certainly not understand what the Sorcerer’s Stone is, since they translated it as Shorkarer Pathor, which means “the Government’s stone”! Since the translators weren’t familiar with the Harry Potter stories, they didn’t know what the stone was. Therefore, they simply wrote an incorrect pronunciation of the word “sorcerer’s” and made it Shorkarer Pathor.

If you have only read the translated versions of the Harry Potter books, then the names of characters, magical objects, and spells you know are likely incorrect. The translated versions even got Hermione’s name wrong! In Bengali, the translation of Hermione’s name was pronounced “Hermeon”. At the very least, you’d expect the translators to write the name of one of the most important characters of the series correctly.

Do you remember Mrs. Norris, the tabby cat that belongs to caretaker Filch? In the translated books, they converted Mrs. Norris from a cat into Filch’s wife! Since her name is Mrs. Norris, they must have assumed she was a married woman.

In the translation of the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the translators wrote that Harry was nine or ten years old. Those familiar with the story know that, in the fourth book, Harry was 14 years of age.

From the mistakes the translators have made it is very clear that, prior to their translation, they never knew the story of Harry Potter. Had they known, these mistakes wouldn’t have been made. So, before you begin translating a specific topic, take the time to familiarize yourself with it. Otherwise, you might end up making mistakes like “the Government’s stone”!

About Rehana Parvin

I’m a native Bengali translator living in Bangladesh. I have a graduate degree in Applied Statistics, and am the winner of multiple government awards in science and education. I have extensive experience in SEO, including translation of metadata, along with keyword prominence, density, and curation.