If you read my last blogpost, you’ll have found a ton of ways to get to grips with the Dutch language. One thing that I seemed to miss out though (weirdly enough given my love of reading), was how much you should read in your target language. It’s a biggie.
When I began to get a little more confident with my Dutch I decided to try to read a novel (FYI I was punching well above my weight). My bright idea was to get a hold of a novel that I already knew. My thought process: I already know the story, so it should be easy to translate right? (um, kinda).
I picked everyone’s favourite, Harry Potter, in an attempt to relive my youth. While it half worked, there was something pretty odd about the Dutch translation of it that almost ruined the magic of Harry P for me:
They changed the characters names.
What?! I hear you cry? Yeah, a lot of characters in the Harry Potter universe apparently went and changed their name by deed poll. Are the names better? Wait and see, and let me know what you think. I’ve compiled a list of teachers, ghosts, students, and pretty main characters who all had their names battered by the Dutch language.
Here goes. Goodbye childhood.
The weird renaming of Dutch Harry Potter characters
Let me start by saying that Harry Potter remained Harry Potter thank God. Could you imagine? Hagrid remained Hagrid. And Dobby remained Dobby/ I mean it’s something. I’m not quite sure they’d have ever gotten away with calling Harry… Henk or something. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it does it.
One other name that remained the same: Hedwig. And you should know that Hedwig is a really popular girl’s name in the Netherlands. I know a Hedwig, and whilst the name always conjures up cute owls in my mind, you’ve got to know that the name has been used here in NL way before it ever appeared in Harry Potter. In fact, it’s a Germanic name that’s been used since the 9th Century.
Without further ado:
- Hermelien Griffel – Hermione Granger
- Ron Wemel – Ron Weasley
- Vernon Duffeling – Vernon Dursely
- Petunia Duffeling – Petunia Dursely
- Dirk Duffeling – Dudley Dursely
- Albus Perkamentus – Albus Dumbledore
- Minerva Anderling – Minerva McGonnagall
- Severus Sneep – Severus Snape
- Argus Vilder – Argus Filch
- Sybilla Zwandrift – Sybil Trelawney
- Gladianus Smalhart – Gilderoy Lockheart
- Alastor Dolleman – Alistair Moody
- Professor Krinkel – Professor Quirrel
- Professor Stronk – Professor Sprout
- Draco Malfidus – Draco Malfoy
- Vincent Korzel – Vincent Crabbe
- Karel Kwast – Gregory Goyle
- Daan Thomas – Dean Thomas
- MARCEL?! LUBBERMANS!? – Neville! Longbottom!?
- Loena Leeflang – Luna Lovegood
- Oliver Plank – Oliver Wood
- Simon Filister – Seamus Finnigan
- Carlo Kannewasser – Cedric Diggory
- Knikkebeen – Crookshanks (knikke means crack, and been is a leg)
- Muil – Fang
- Pluisje – Fluffy the three headed dog (Pluisje is a literal translation of Fluffy)
- Schurfie – Scabbers
Ghosts and ghouls
- Jammerende Jenny – Moaning Myrtle (OK I like this one because of the way the word Jammerende rolls off the tongue).
- Foppe de Klopgeist – Peeves the Poltergeist (OK actually I love this one too because of Foppe and klop).
- Haast Onthoofde Henk – Nearly Headless Nick
- De Dikke Dame – The Fat Lady (a literal translation)
Hogwarts and its houses
- Zweinsteins Hogerschool voor Hekserij en Hocus Pocus – Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (whilst a mouthful for sure, I do like the fact that the words hocus pocus are in there).
- Zweinsveld – Hogsmeade
- Goderic Griffoendor – Godric Gryffindor
- Helga Huffelpuf – Helga Hufflepuff
- Rowena RavenKlauw – Rowena Ravenclaw
- Zalazar Zwadderich – Salazar Slytherin
He who must not be named
- Heer Volemort – Voldemort
- Hij-Die-Niet-Genoemd-Mag-Worden – He who must not be named
- Jeweetwel – You Know Who
- De Heer van het Duister – The Dark Lord
Whilst there are clearly a few names that are pretty similar in both Dutch and English, some leave a lot to the imagination and are completely different to the English counterparts. I like to think of this as a direct metaphor for the entire Dutch language versus the English language: whilst some words are eerily similar, and pretty easy to pick up, others are so far removed from each other they’re difficult to remember.
All I know is, I didn’t finish Harry Potter en de steen de wijzen because I got so jumbled up, I went into flap mode and promptly moved onto something else. Written in English. I’m willing to give it another go though now, I guess. With my newer, stronger Dutch skills, it could be an easier ride.
Why did they change the names though?
Since going through the motions of learning Dutch, I’ve discovered that the names do of course make sense.
In Dutch, the Harry Potter universe, whilst sacredly British to us British folk, needs to be adapted to make sure its audience have a clue at what’s going on. Especially younger kids.
While strange to an English speaking idiot like myself, who clearly didn’t connect the dots because she was freaking out about the slaughtering of Harry Potter so much, names such as Dirk and Henk are incredibly popular here in the Netherlands – way more popular than Dudley or Nick, that’s for sure.
And, when it comes to the ghosts, a klopgeist (as in Foppe de Klopgeist/Peeves the Poltergeist) is simply the Dutch translation of poltergeist. Very simple in hindsight. Jammerende Jenny is alliterative just like Moaning Myrtle is, and it means the same thing. But my God to a basic level Dutch speaker did all these new found names make my head spin.
So all is not lost, and maybe one day I’ll pick up a Dutch Harry Potter novel and read it in its entirety. For now, I’ll stick with more basic books that feed my understanding a little easier…
What do you make of the Harry Potter universe’s new found monikers: cool or just plain weird? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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