Harry Potter has been translated into dozens of languages worldwide, but the Scots translation – the latest of the bunch – is perhaps the most glorious.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stane, published late last year, translates J.K. Rowling‘s beloved book into Scots, a language spoken by some 1.5 million people.
Dumbledore becomes “Dumbiedykes”, Quidditch becomes “Bizzumbaw”, and Uncle Vernon is described as a “muckle, beefy-boukit man wi a stumpie wee craigie.”
Translated by Scots expert Matthew Fitt, the book uses “standard Scots”, without any kind of local dialect – except, that is, for Hagrid, who apparently hails from Dundee. (According to this Guardian interview, Dundonians famously say “peh” instead of “pie”, and while there’s unfortunately there’s no pies in Harry Potter, if there had been, “Hagrid would have been straight into them.”)
In this new edition, the houses of Hogwarts Schuil o Carlinecraft and Warlockry become Hechlepech, Corbieclook, Slydderin and Gryffindor. Guess that one was already Scottish enough?
Rather than call Voldemort “You-Know-Who”, this version calls him “You-Ken-Wha”, which absolutely sounds like “You-Fucken-What”. Also, Professor Snape is Professor Snipe, which is nothing short of perfect.
Fitt took a few liberties with the translation: Dumbiedykes is a bit of an in-joke for Scots, referring to the area of Edinburgh where Rowling wrote the book, and Bizzumbaw is a literal blend of “bizzum”, or broom, and “baw”, or ball.
It’s been published a full 20 years after the original, becoming the 80th language. And yes, technically Scots could have always read the English editions, but Fitt wanted to give them a book they could read in their native tongue. (There’s an ongoing debate about whether Scots is a language or a dialect, but let’s not go into that right now.)
“I wanted tae dae this for a lang time but kent I wanted tae get it richt,” he told the BBC, which printed the quotes accordingly. “I’m that honoured tae be the Scots translator o this warld-famous Harry Potter buik and chuffed tae ma bitts that Scots speakers, baith young and no sae young, can noo read the novel again, this time in oor gallus braw Mither Tongue.”
The translation of “other people” to “fowk”, btw? Genius. Makes Harry Potter suddenly seem like a very rude book.
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