Imagine you wake up on the 22nd of July, one day after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. You've spent most of the night reading the book, but obviously you couldn't finish reading it. You walk to the kitchen (with the book held tight) and your Dad is reading the newspaper. You glance at the headlines and one of them grasps your attention: it's about Harry Potter. You read it upon your Dad's shoulder, but regret it forever: the article tells everything that happens in the end of the book!
If the story above has sent shivers down your spine, you might want to know that it did happen in Taiwan! One day after the release of the English version of Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince around the world (the release was on the 16th of July of 2005, remember?), most of the Taiwanese newspapers wrote articles stating that Professor Severus Snape had killed Dumbledore! (No theories about the killing! That's to Raadhika). This is what Rufina told me, a very nice Indonesian girl that went to Taiwan to achieve her degree. In her words, "I remembered vividly that most of the Taiwan's newspapers put up that spoiler, honestly I think all of them did that. Well, kind of a something that a newspaper had to put up since the other paper did the same thing. So... most of my Taiwanese friends knew the story within 24 hours after the book was released. Most of them confirm [sic] the news with me since I was the only one who had finished the book."
How would you feel in Taiwanese fans' skin? Well, she also described to me that: "I was dumbstruck the moment I read the paper and felt greatful that I had finished my copy." I can imagine how she might have felt. It's very common that a lot of spoilers pop on the Internet a couple of days before the book's release and also a month after it. The Internet is a free domain and there are a lot of people who are bad and don't care (they might actually like it) about not spoiling others' entertainment. Nevertheless, people would never expect to read the end of the story on a newspaper, a communication means that is allegedly compromised with the people's welfare. That's not breaking news, but a disgustful leak that just annoys instead of informing the readers.
Another interesting fact about Harry Potter in Taiwan is also the translation. In Taiwan they speak Chinese (or Mandarin), but they don't use the same characters to write as in China. You must remember that there are some countries that still don't recognize Taiwan's sovereignty, stating that this land is part of the Chinese territory. On the other hand, Taiwan reinforces that it's a country and must be treated apart of China. I don't intend to discuss the political implications of this quarrel, but to salient one point that Taiwan uses to show its independence: the language. After the Communist Revolution in China in 1949, Mao Zedong established a Simplified-characters alphabet to the mainland, so that people could be literate more easily. However, Taiwan didn't accept this change and decided to keep up the traditional system of characters, much more complicated, though.
Therefore, Harry Potter must be translated into two different kinds of Chinese, the Traditional-character and the Simplified ones. That's not really a problem, but a nice curiosity. Rufina also told me some amazing facts about the Taiwanese Harry Potter's translation. She said that since in Chinese there are no "r" sounds, Harry's become "Ha Li". In regard to Dumbledore's name, there aren't either the sounds "Dum", "Ble" and "Dor" (nothing of Dumbledore's name!?) So they used the sounds that would be very close to the original words: "Deng Bu Li Duo" (try to read it fast and you'll indeed notice a similarity with the English pronunciation of the name). To make it even more remarkable, Rufina points out that they translated Hermione into "Sally" (no clue why) and Ron into "Rong En". When it comes to the titles, the movies' and the books' are also translated into Chinese. It means that most of the Taiwanese fans don't know the titles in English, a quite odd situation to Rufina, as she told me.
Well, I'd like to thank Rufina very much for sending me that awesome story that I've just told you about. Also, thank you all for reading my editorial. If you have an interesting story that you might like to tell me, do just as Rufina: send an e-mail to bruno at the snitch dot co dot uk and be sure you'll be here!
See you in the next opportunity.
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