An interesting page by Greg Prindle on how the Harry Potter books are translated into Chinese (mainland and Taiwanese), Japanese, and Vietnamese:

  • Most of the names are translated phonetically, even when they have transparent derivations in English.  Harry is 哈利波特 Hālì Bōtè in the PRC, ハリー・ポッター Harii Pottā in Japan; Hogwarts is 霍格沃茨 Huògéwòcí.
  • Cho Chang is pseudo-Chinese and has been turned into real Chinese: 张秋 Zhāng Qiū , using the common surname Zhang (same as Fushia’s); q means ‘autumn’.  This must contrast strangely with concoctions like Fúléidé Wéisīlái for Fred Weasley.
  • The spell names were translated from pseudo-Latin to Chinese (I don’t know if they have a wényán feel).  E.g. Incendio becomes火焰熊熊 huǒyàn xióngxióng ‘fire-flame-bear-bear’.
  • In Japanese, Dumbledore is given a ‘venerable old codger’ dialect similar to other eccentric old men in manga.
  • There’s a section on how the wordplay was translated… in general, pretty badly.