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The Language of Harry Potter





HP5 Movie PosterThe Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowling and the films based on them have spawned an incredible amount of new words and phrases, as well as introducing previously rare words back into mainstream English. Rowling's work is so broad in scope and well-crafted that the words, names, and terms used deserve a close look, if only to appreciate all the more the world of Harry Potter, Hogwarts, and Wizards and Witches.
The poster here is for the Korean version of the film Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix. Note how the Hangul script has been nicely stylized to resemble the Englsih alphabet, including the thunderbolt used in the "H" and "P" of Harry's name, and the generally gothic quality to the lettering overall. The Korean Hangul is not used this way, except in association with Harry Potter.


Muggle is all about the word that J. K. Rowling is probably best known for besides the names of her main characters.

The Deathly Hallows describes the meaning of the title of the last Harry Potter novel, and what the hallows actually are and mean (do not read this if you haven't read the book).

Wizards and Witches talks all about these words in Harry Potter's world as well as in our world and in other fantasy stories.

Lord Voldemort takes a close look at the name of the arch-villain and nemesis of Harry Potter throughout the books and films.

Draco Malfoy describes the name of this nasty fellow and what it means, plus the names of his parents and how they are used to portray this evil family.

Order of the Phoenix examines the origins of the name of this group and what it has to do with the ancient Phoenicians.

Hogwarts covers the famous school of witchcraft and wizardry, how it got its name, and what it is all about.

Quidditch describes the name of this sport and the names used in it, how they came to be, and what we know about their origins.

The Four Houses of Hogwarts is all about Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.

The Ministry of Magic looks at the governing body of the wizarding world, its departments and offices, and what it lacks.

Azkaban looks closely at the wizard prison in the world of Harry Potter, its name and reputation.

The Dementors examines these terrifying creatures, their name, and their well-earned reputation.

Acronyms in Harry Potter takes a look at the meaning and wordplay found in OWLs, NEWTS, and SPEW, plus what they become in other languages.

Magic, Spells, Charms, and Curses looks at what these words actually mean and where they come from, since J.K. Rowling is not the first author to use them, though she does so in her own distinctive way.

Latin for Spells goes through the common spells for wizards and witches and where they got their names.

The Unforgivable Curses looks at the three forbidden spells, Cruciatus, Imperio, and Avada Kedavra, and the origins of their names.

Potent Potions describes the names and uses of the potions in Harry Potter's world, and how J.K. Rowling generally comes up with them.

Horcrux explains the use, possible origins and significance of this most evil object and its name.

Diagon Alley takes an in-depth look at the Main Street of the wizarding world, including its many shops and stores.

Pensieve is all about the magical means for managing memories.

Unauthorized Harry covers the unauthorized translations of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and why the real translation will be worth the wait.

Translating Puns uses examples from the Harry Potter novels to explore the challenges of translating word play among various languages.

Translating Names takes the common names in the Harry Potter novels to see how translators can best come up with good names when translating fiction.

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