My first time reading the original version of the Philosopher’s Stone

My first time reading the original version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone after 18 years  of reading the Danish translated version – the version of my childhood and teen years.

First, a quick page count because it was surprisingly different: English PS is a 223 page thing while the Danish PS is 303 pages long; that’s an 80 page difference! What could cause such a huge difference? It could be the font and the size of the letters chosen, but it could also be that the Danish language sometimes has longer, more complicated words, and/or it needs more words to get the same meaning across. Personally, I think it is due to all of the reasons mentioned above.

The story: did it change with the language? The answer is no, it didn’t. What struck me the most is how good the translated version is compared to the original. It even more so makes me appreciate the work of the Danish translator. Though of course the original English version had hidden secrets which are very much related to British culture and I got to learn new fun words and sayings.

Characters: no characters changed that much. Sure it was nice being able to see Hagrid’s dialect in writing and to get the wise sayings of Dumbledore the way I’m used to seeing and hearing them (those especially sound a lot less like wisdom in the translated version), but my opinion of the characters haven’t changed. Ron is a tad bit funnier, Dumbledore more formal and wise sounding, Hagrid sounds more like Hagrid and McGonagall sounds as sharp and strict as she’s supposed to. The real difference is of two things:

  1.  it has made me appreciate the film more. In so many places did I think “hey, it is just like in the movie!” It’s no secret that I’ve never been a huge fan of the films and so I hope reading the original HP books will make me enjoy watching them more.
  2. For the first time in about 10 years the chapter “Mirror of Erised” did not get me teary eyed. It didn’t have the same impact at all. It’s difficult to say if it’s due to the words themselves, that they simply mean more in my mother tongue, or if there’s another reason but the fact is that even though I gained a lot from the English HP I lost one of my all-time favourite chapters. In the future I suppose I’ll always read that particular chapter in Danish. It makes me wonder if the English language is going to be a let-down with all of my favourite chapters?

What I learned: that the next time I’m in England I need to get a Knickerbocker Glory just to see if it’s going to be shaped as pants (and it better!), and the term fortnight. How that beautiful word has escaped my attention until now is a travesty (even though I still imagine it as being like a ‘night at the fort’).


The Philosopher's Stone

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11 thoughts on “My first time reading the original version of the Philosopher’s Stone

  1. You know, that I also have a certain scene in the Hindi dubbed version of Chamber of Secrets that gives the actual effect it should in Hindi only, to me. I’ve watched it in English too but the effect in Hindi was just real and crushing.
    Kudos to the blog. Personally I like the blogs to be short and sweet just like this.

    P.S: Sometimes I can manage a long one too.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you, Nilly, for inducing a wierd linguistic craving for HP in another language. I think I’ve got a particular hankering for Spanish for some reason. Maybe it’s just because I understand that best. Who knows…

    Dee (AKA Kelthor. One can never have too many names)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Eunice

    I admire that you’ve read and appreciate reading HP in your own language because I wouldn’t like to read or watch HP in mine. Haha. Don’t get me wrong, I love my language just not being translated for books and movies. It sounds strange. Maybe I’ll appreciate that someday.

    P.S. The first two movies are the closest to the books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It might be because I started reading the books before I learned English, and just kept at it. Participating in the Book Club made me curious but I am not certain if I would have liked them in Danish had the English version been my childhood.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! This is one of the more interesting posts I have read in a while. In fact, I’m not sure I have encountered a post that reflects the experience of reading a book in two different languages. The subtle distinctions between the two are fascinating; as well as how those differences impacted your experience. I’m curious to see if it changes your feelings about the movie. Great job. Well written as well.

    Roger

    Liked by 1 person

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