French Teen Posts His Own Translation of Harry Potter, Is Arrested

OK, if you haven’t heard about this yet, here’s the story

The short form is that a high school kid from France, impatient that the French translation of Harry Potter won’t be released until October decided to do his own translation of the first three chapters, and post them on his web-site. Shortly after he did this, the police came and arrested him for copyright violation.

Now, I love the Harry Potter books. I think J.K. Rowling is richly deserving of every success she has had heaped upon her — but come on. Defending a copyright is one thing, but I think it should stop short of sending impatient teenagers to jail. For one thing, he seems to be a much more able translator than the one who was officially hired — he certainly seems to work faster. Perhaps Scholastic should have offered him a job (or maybe just sent him a nasty letter telling him to take his translation down) before siccing the gendarmes on him.

Now, as a fan, I certainly respect the rights of fans not to receive any spoilers before reading the book. Ms Rowling herself feels so strongly about this that she waited until several days after the book was published before going on national television and revealing spoilers. Still, perhaps I am an anarchist at heart, but I really don’t think that Harry Potter sales are going to plummet in France just because of this kid’s website — or, at least, not to the extent that the kid should be arrested for his enthusiasm over this series.

Maybe the folks at Scholastic never had to take a foreign language in High School, but I can guarantee that a High School language student’s translation of ANYTHING will not affect sales of a professionally published translation. I translated an essay or two during my tenure in High School and if they ever resembled, either in meaning or in spirit, the original work, it was a quirk of fate so far-fetched that it could be considered a miracle.

By way of demonstrating this, I would like to present a brief excerpt of how I believe this French teen’s translation would read if it were translated back into English. I would like to stress that I am making this up entirely. Nothing I write is based on the new Harry Potter book, its illicit translation, or anything else. There are no spoilers/copyright infringements here. Please, please do not arrest me.


Harry the Jar-Maker and the Halls of Death

It was to be a day of great auspiciousness/lucky joy for Harry the Jar-Maker. For being today the day of the anniversary of his being born.

“May luck shine down upon you,” was saying the friend Hermione of Harry, “You are greatly to be forunate.”

“Indeed,” quoted friend Ron, “much happiness be with you on today.”

“Yes,” was saying Harry, “Thanks are given to you he she. If only fears (or possibly dreads/longing) of Voldemort were not being present. I long that he does not take a life of perhaps ours.”

“Do not worry of this?” declaimed friend Ron with laughter, “Is it not so? Will we need him now? Enjoy of the Bertram Boat’s Multi-Flavored Legumes which is being my surprise towards you.”

And Harry did this but it was the flavor of ear-candles. The multitude of friends gave great laughter


And on, and on, and on…Scholastic has nothing to worry about.

2 Responses to “French Teen Posts His Own Translation of Harry Potter, Is Arrested”

  1. stephanie says:

    I would not be wanting of the ear-candle flavoring legumes.

    Since Europeans are generally much better educated linguistically I suspect his version might be a wee bit more accurate than yours… but probably not by much, lol.

    What a bizarre story. What I don’t understand is why Scholastic didn’t arrange ahead of time to get the foriegn-language versions published simultaneously… were they THAT worried about secrecy that they couldn’t trust their own publishing partners?

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