Reading Harry Potter en Français


As I mentioned before, I’ve been reading the French translations of the Harry Potter series. I graduated from college this past May with a major in French, and in the fall I’ll be going to France to teach English for 7 months, but in the meantime, reading Harry Potter in French is one of the things I’m doing to keep up my language skills over the summer. I’m currently on book 3, Harry Potter et le Prisonnier d’Azkaban.

I actually read my first Harry Potter book in French about two years ago, knowing that I was going to start taking upper-level literature classes in my major soon and thinking it would be good to read a longer text in French that I knew I would enjoy before I had to do it for class. I would highly recommend it for any Harry Potter fan who’s learning a foreign language, in school or otherwise. Of course, it’s even better to find things that originated from your target language, instead of translations. Texts originally written in French (or whatever language you’re learning) will teach you about culture as well as language, and of course there’s the possibility of translation errors, but I still think the pros of reading something like Harry Potter in another language outweigh the cons.

And from the perspective of a Harry Potter fan, I feel like I’m getting to relive the stories in a way that I couldn’t by reading them again in English. I already know all the plot twists and endings, of course, but reading in a foreign language gives it the feeling of being new and provides a whole new set of things to discover: what did the translator do with words like “muggle” and “dementor”? Who on earth is Tom Elvis Jedusor? What about the four houses of Gryffondor, Poufsoufle, Serdaigle, and Serpentard? Maybe that makes me a nerd, but the linguistic aspects of Harry Potter are fascinating to me, and that includes the things that come up in translation.


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