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I’m reading Harry Potter in Dutch at the moment. (I may have mentioned this before!) And I keep noticing places where the translation is not just the words, but also the cultural expectation. I’ve mainly noticed it with the food they eat. The story of Harry Potter is very rich with details of many things, including the food. And for many of these they have been changed into typical Dutch things. At least I think they have because I don’t believe that in the original Hogwarts serves stroopwafels! We don’t have a copy of the first Harry Potter in English so I can’t check what he does actually eat, and I don’t remember, but I’m sure it must be something more typically English than stroopwafels.  (As an aside if you haven’t tried one you should. They’re delicious, especially after sitting over your tea or coffee for a minute or two so the caramel in the middle goes gooey.)

Translating

I was also amused by the bit when the Weasley brothers all get Christmas jumpers with their initial on. In the English version Fred and George then tell Percy he has to wear his because it has P for Prefect on it. Of course in English Prefect and Percy begin with the same letter. Whereas in the Dutch they tell him that it’s got a K for “klassenouder”, which doesn’t make sense as his name is still Percy.

It is fun to read though, even if I don’t understand absolutely every word. It also makes me slow down reading, as in English I read too fast. So I think that I am appreciating more of the subtler parts of the story than when I read it in English. Or at least, the sounds of all of the words anyway!

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