While ‘pirate translations’ are simply unauthorised translations of the true books, bizarre fake translations of the books have appeared which are published pastiches or fanfics that certain foreign publishers have tried to pass off as official translations. Below are some of the best-known or at least the most widespread and ‘best-selling’ with most being from China, the land of bootlegs. Examples include:
Harry Potter and Bao Zoulong
Mistranslated as Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-to-Dragon in English-language media, according to translated excerpts, the book principally consists of text from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit but with most names changed to those of Harry Potter characters offering two plagiarisms for the price of one. (And also a dragon that looks suspiciously like Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty on the cover.)
The plot involves Harry becoming a fat, hairy dwarf after being caught in a ‘sour and sweet rain’. He also loses all his magic which he can only get back by getting a certain ring. He then becomes a dragon and fights evil. Oh, and Voldemort has an even more powerful brother who makes trouble for Harry. Thus, Harry and so many characters from The Hobbit whose names are changed to Potter characters, must sort this trouble out. Oddly enough, Gandalf remains Gandalf, whom as a old, bearded wizard, you would assume to have changed at least to Dumbledalf or Gandore.
Media outlets quickly recognised the fake though the opening of this book, translated into English, was included in several news articles. Also copies of the novel, both print and e-book versions, were briefly distributed around the world. In November 2002, the Bashu Publishing House in Chengdu, agreed to pay a £1,600 (US$3,400) fine and published an apology in China’s Legal Times for printing and distributing the novel. The anonymous ‘author’ has remained undiscovered.
Harry Potter and the Porcelain Doll
Another one from China, Harry Potter and the Ci Wa Wa or The Porcelain Doll, sees Harry highly worried to learn that Voldemort is going to China to find his Chinese nemesis, Yan Dao Mo, in order to counter him and threaten the entire Western magic world. Harry decides to go to China to look for the Chinese porcelain doll that can subdue Yan Dao Mo. On the way, Harry becomes friends with Long-Long and Xing-Xing of a Chinese acrobatic troupe. Xing-Xing is always bullied by Taiqi Pao, who, as it turns out, is Yan Dao Mo. Voldemort had killed Taoqi Pao’s mother Da Bocai (Big Spinach) and taken Taoqi Pao as his student to master the Dark Arts, turning Taoqi Pao into Yan Dao Mo.
Harry learns that Long-Long is the Eastern Prodigy ‘Dragon Champion’ and Xing-Xing is the Eastern princess ‘Sandalwood Star’. Together they find the porcelain doll, from which they learns the origins of Yan Dao Mo. Yan Dao Mo is in fact Yan Mo Guai, who was defeated 1,000 years ago by the Little Eastern Angel. The porcelain doll is the Little Angel herself, on whom Yan Mo Guai had placed a curse. They release the curse and soon set to thwart You-Know-Who’s plot…
This was published by 中国盲文出版社, or China Braille Press with the given address a location in the outskirts of Beijing, near the Marco Polo Bridge. The book gives the major State-owned publisher and bookseller Xinhua Shudian as the sales distribution channel though whether it was eventually banned or not, I’m unsure.
Harry Potter and the Chinese Overseas Students at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Winning an award for ‘Longest Fanfic Title’, this Chinese fanfic sees Dumbledore recruiting six super-genius Chinese students from the Nine Mysteries school to work his present pupils into shape after the evil Black Monster threatens the wizarding world because with a name like that, what is a Westerner supposed to do? The Chinese students are obviously utterly superior. Everyone is inspired to stand up against Voldemort and his army of Death Eaters, werewolves, Dementors and more.
Harry Potter and the Big Funnel (or Filler of Big)
After graduating from Hogwarts, Harry has an internship at another wizarding school which is quite a relief as he can leave the Dursleys behind and the awkwardness that is Dudley dating a belly dancer. Bat Bug (which we may assume is Dobby) tells Harry there’s going to be trouble soon. Things seem to be OK though… until Harry’s students start turning into wooden stools. Is it Voldemort being villainous again? A new evil student? Rogue Hagrid? Or the Filler of Big AKA The Big Funnel? We can probably safely guess who the suspect is in this one.
Harry Potter and the Water-Repelling Pearl
Teaming up with Gandalf and some guy named Peter, Harry goes to find the Little Warriors who live in a desert city in the sea (or possibly a sea city in the desert). They go through mysterious keyhole and win some gold armour after killing the head of monsters. Unfortunately, Hermione is kidnapped by the Dragon King while they’re away. Upon learning this, Harry and co. must storm the Dragon King’s palace using a magical pearl.
Harry Potter in Calcutta/Kolkata
In a nice change of scenery, established author Uttam Ghosh, whose previous works include Nishiddha Swad (Forbidden Taste), Bedside Stories and, more recently, a two-volume translation of Vivekananda’s English writings, wrote Harry Potter Kolkataye in 2003, which involves Harry meeting a Kolkata boy named Jhontu and figures from Bengali literature. The author claimed there was a great market for these kind of books and that no-one had ever threatened a lawsuit before which is what unsurprisingly happened as it heavily infringed on intellectual property.
Tirthapati Dutta, proprietor of Sahitya Tirtha and publisher of Harry Potter Kolkataye, is remorseless. “The case is now over. There was no compensation involved,” he says, pointing out that it would be small change for Rowling given her earnings of over Rs 100 crore.
Rabi Chakraborty, of Nandita Publishers which printed Harry Potter O Paras Mani (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), is equally defiant. “We were not aware of the legal intricacies. Now that we have been told about the matter, we have withdrawn the book,” Chakraborty said.
While its translator Arghya Das remains elusive, Uttam Ghosh stated, “my book is not plagiarism. I did use the names of characters with reference to the magic school at Hogwarts but the storyline is essentially based in Kolkata.”
The law firm apparently had nothing against the storyline. Its objection were the use of original characters names and printing 16 stills from the movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. While the books were withdrawn, this didn’t stop other unauthorised versions from appearing on the streets.
Tanya Grotter and the Magical Double Bass
Not a fake translation as such but more of a brazen knock-off, Harry’s Slavic twin rides a double bass instead of a broomstick and has a large mole on her nose instead of a lightning bolt on her forehead. Apart from this, she resembles Harry a lot – she lives in a cupboard in the home of her relatives, the Durnevs, after her parents are killed by the evil sorceress Chuma-del-Tort. She also makes two special friends, becomes extraordinary at Dragonball (not to be confused with the anime) and have a climatic fight against the villain in the school’s basement.
The series features allusions to Russian culture and folklore such as Baba Yaga and the works of Pushkin which author Dmitri Yemets describes as a ‘cultural reply’ to the Potter series. The Tanya Grotter series in Russia has so far sold over 3 million books though as a result of litigation from J. K Rowling and Time Warner, they are not available for translation under copyright law.
Why she flies about on a giant, stringed instrument is anyone’s guess.
Harry Potter and Beaker and Burn
Nothing on the plot. Just look at the cover. Look at it.