The second book in J. Rowlings classic Harry Potter series is available in Latin. Lovers of the language and students alike will delight in Peter Needhams cleverly witty translation. Reissued with stunning new Jonny Duddle cover art, Harrius Potter et Camera Secretorum is sure to captivate a new generation.
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But that is what I did. For eighteen days, between captaining an eighteen-foot raft down miles of the Colorado River, making sure all our human waste made it into the cans we carried for that purpose, and, late in the trip, grimly helping re-right the capsized craft that held those cans, I read Harrius Potter et Camera Secretorum, having read Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis shortly before the trip.
In the introductions to several of these works, the translator mentions a hope that the translation will help learners enjoy reading a higher volume of Latin than they otherwise could, and that this increased volume will lead to greater ability to read other Latin texts.
Never before had I lapped up Latin by the double digits of pages per day — actual, full pages of Latin, uncramped by notes in another language on vocabulary, manuscripts, history, and other things that are often worthwhile and sometimes essential, but also distract from the Latin text. I already liked to read Latin, but Harrius Potter was a gateway text for me, leading to regular, sustained sessions reading authors of all eras.
Sitting in that raft, I did sometimes allow myself to underline words or phrases I wanted to revisit later, either to find out what they meant or to add them to my own repertoire of Latin locutions. My waterlogged copy of Harrius Potter et Camera Secretorum shows about one smudgy underline per page. For another, I would have missed much of the plot had I not already absorbed the story and no small part of the exact wording of the original.
Of course, you might worry whether the Latin of Harrius Potter is such that you would even want to soak it up. Among the readers who notice, some will find this endearing, others distracting. The following scene from Harrius Potter et Camera Secretorum may tell you into which category you fall. Harry went back to his toast. Of course, he thought bitterly, Uncle Vernon was talking about the stupid dinner party. Harrius ad panem tostum rediit.
There are other quibbles one might have with the translation, but the important thing is that I did not have them when I was churning pages in a blow-up boat in Arizona. If I internalized any solecisms, the effect was far outweighed by steady encounters with correct Latin forms and syntax throughout the books. Harrius Potter is not the place to pick up fancy phrasing or grow your tricolon. Eventually, my delight in the books and my growing Latin competence gave me another way to play with both: seeing how I might have translated things differently and how I might translate the remaining books.
Only two of the seven were Latinized. This gave me new appreciation for what Needham had pulled off. Harrius Potter multis in rebus ab aequalibus distabat. Inter Harrium Potter aliosque pueros plurimum intererat. Haud par ceteris pueris fuit Harrius ille Potter. Harrius Potter aetate similibus dissimillimus ingenio. Non una in re discrepabat Harrius Potter ab eiusdem aetatis pueris. Rarus puer fuit Harrius Potter. In a rash moment, I took this twice-nerdy exercise far enough to send Bloomsbury, the publisher of the UK original and the Latin translations, a letter offering my services to translate the third and any subsequent books, in case such translations were not already in progress.
While we wait, evaluating the existing translations and playing with possible renditions of passages from books 3—7 can be a worthwhile practice — or party game.
Between grasps at wit beyond measure, he operates Indwelling Language , a collection of resources and habits for boosting joy and success in language learning and teaching. He tweets languagy tips and tidbits as IndwellingLang.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Latin: Harrius Potter et Camera Secretor
Gardajinn I already liked to read Latin, but Harrius Potter was a gateway text for me, leading to regular, sustained sessions reading authors of all eras. Only two of the seven were Latinized. This gave me new appreciation for what Needham had pulled off. He tweets languagy tips and tidbits as IndwellingLang. Harrius Potter secretogum not the place to pick up fancy phrasing or grow your tricolon.
Harrius Potter Et Camera Secretorum