Tante Célibataire

August 30, 2007 at 7:40 pm | Posted in books | 2 Comments

I was wandering around Fnac today and came across this item, prominently displayed right next to the English version of the seventh Harry Potter book:

Harry Potter dictionary

The French translation of Deathly Hallows won’t be out for another couple of months, but loads of French adults and children are obsessed enough with the books to attempt to read it in the original. And that, apparently, is where this slim volume comes in.

I kind of laughed when I first noticed it, thinking it would be full of unwieldy French equivalents for words like “muggle” and “wizengamot,” but it turns out it’s so much more than that! Opening it up at random, I found French translations for words and phrases like “goatee,” “maiden aunt,” and “banana fritters.” It had never really occurred to me before, but with phrases like that, of course the Harry Potter books must seem positively inscrutable to someone who has learned all their English out of a textbook.

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about whether the Harry Potter books have truly succeeded in creating a generation of committed readers, or whether all those kids who grew up with the books will return to video games and tv now that they’re done. But whether or not Harry has made a dent in British and American literacy, I’m pleased to see he’s striking a blow for bilingualism around the world.



  1. I flipped through it at Carrefour and was pleased to see the word “balderdash”!

  2. That’s awesome!

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