Harry Potter for Japanese learning

I’ve been doing Listening-Reading with Harry Potter book 1 recently (more details in my study log). I’ve seen these books mentioned a few times on Koohii and here, and I wondered who else had got them and what you thought.

One odd thing I’m noticing is that the Pottermore e-book and audiobook are significantly different. There are hundreds of small changes in wording. The paper book I had from a while ago seems to match the audiobook much better (of course I can’t say if it’s 100%, and I’ve been using the e-book most of the time; but while I was using the paper book I didn’t notice anything). Any ideas what’s going on here? And does anyone know if it’s the same for other books in the series?

I currently have:

  • Pottermore Japanese audiobook (9781781108444, 2016-11-09)
  • Pottermore Japanese e-book (9781781101513, 2015-12-08)
  • Japanese paper book part 1 (9784863892309, 2014-03-05)
  • English paper books for the whole series
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So in Japan the Harry Potter books are split into part 1 and 2? I discovered that with a book by Stephen King. I bought one of his books then discovered that it is only part 1. I guess they make more money that way.

Right, and looks like the later books have even more volumes. The one I have is a tiny book, which really wouldn’t be any the worse for being twice as thick. The Pottermore e-books are just the one volume though.

To further complicate matters, seems like there’s another series of audiobooks, read by Emori Toru. Book 1: 9781781103210, 2016-06-16 (5 months earlier than the Kazama Morio version). I wonder what happened there too. This page says it’s for sale in the Pottermore shop, but seems like either it was replaced with the newer one, or it’s not available in the UK: https://www.pottermorepublishing.com/publications/9781781103210-4-ハリー・ポッターと賢者の石-harry-potter-and-the-philosophers-stone/

Isn’t Jk Rowling worth at least a $billion?

I think there’s only one ebook version. The Kindle ebooks say they were published one day after the Pottermore ebooks, so are almost certainly the same thing.

The Emori Tooru audiobooks were actually only books 1-2, and were first published on CD in 2003-4. Most likely, Pottermore republished those as downloadable audiobooks, then changed their minds shortly afterwards and arranged to record books 1-7 in one voice.

For the paperbacks, does it actually say somewhere how many volumes each book has? E.g on Amazon, looks like book 7 has 4 volumes in the 2015 version, and 3 volumes in the 2013 version; but the search results didn’t seem very reliable.

Anyway, I’m finding the large number of ebook/audiobook discrepancies in book 1 pretty irritating, so I’d rather like to know whether this situation continues in later books (and maybe not buy any more if it does).

I would explore other options…for example, I wonder whether the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew books have been translated into Japanese. Those stories are straightforward but most importantly very short; i.e., around 170 pages per book.

Actually, I’m looking for long stories. And most importantly, DRM-free audiobooks at a level of Japanese suitable for my current ability. If the ebooks matched the audiobooks, Harry Potter would have been perfect :cry:

As far as I’m aware all the audiobooks on https://audiobook.jp can be downloaded DRM free if you purchase them individually. This doesn’t apply to the 聴き放題 membership. In that case you only have access to the books while you’re a member and have to download through the app. I didn’t go so far as to check the files though so maybe they cut corners and it is DRM free there as well.

Thanks, I’ll take a look. Though I misspoke slightly there. In Harry Potter, I was looking for a long story with matching DRM-free ebook+audiobook, at a suitable Japanese level. (And having English text makes a big difference to what a suitable Japanese level looks like: without it, Harry Potter would be too difficult for me at present.)

For the Pegasus series (2014-15), this was on the dust jacket of the book I had all along. (I guess that means the dust jacket is newer than the book it’s on?)

Today at a Goodwill-type store I scored a copy of The Firm by John Grisham in Japanese! A nice hardcover too. “法律事務所”.

I decided to try the book 2 ebook anyway, and I can confirm that book 2 also has a large number of discrepancies between the ebook and the audiobook.

Previously, I was getting tripped up by changes in sentence structure. As my skills have improved, I can more easily isolate these and find my place again right away. Now I’m more concerned about one-word changes. If it’s a word I don’t know, then I probably won’t notice it’s been changed, and there’s a good chance I’d learn to read a few words incorrectly…

And when writing that, I realised that the original epub file has furigana on some words, and apparently I stripped them when converting to other formats, so I’d better fix that at least!

Apparently the DRM-free ebooks and audiobooks were withdrawn from sale a couple of months back. They say “The Pottermore Shop has now stopped selling ebooks and audiobooks. This is because there are many other retailers to buy from and libraries to borrow from globally.” I’ve been getting emails telling me to make sure I’ve downloaded my stuff by January because they’re going to delete it then. I have the first two ebooks and the first three audiobooks, and haven’t done much with them recently, so whether I spent too much or not enough I don’t really know.

I did try another chapter quite recently, reading it quickly in English followed by listening with Japanese text. It was a lot easier than before, and kind of entertaining, but it’s not as motivating as original Japanese content. And I wonder how unnatural it is.

誤訳・珍訳 日本語版ハリー・ポッターの不思議 Wiki* criticizes the translation in some detail. I think I’ll be going back to that when my reading comprehension is a bit better.

https://wikiwiki.jp/harrypotter/賢者の石/1~4章 Apparently the very first sentence is weird. I can believe that :smiley:

I think it’s better to read original Japanese content. I’ve never understood the motivation for using translations of Harry Potter for foreign language learning.

I read a review by a Latin teacher of the Latin translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and the reviewer said Why would you spend valuable time reading this when there are so many beautiful works of real Latin available?

This probably applies to Japanese as well.

You must have had a reason for buying that John Grisham book upthread!

I guess the benefit of using translations is that it’s easier in some ways than original content. If the beautiful works of real Latin/Japanese are still too hard, using a translation could help us level up to them. But for “motivation” in the sense of the feeling of wanting to read it, that could be problematic when the original English version is better.

That’s a good point about the John Grisham book! I bought it on an impulse but still haven’t tried to read it. Currently I’m reading a Japanese novel originally written in Japanese.

As an interesting aside about the Latin version of the first Harry Potter book, I remember that a reviewer mentioned something interesting: the title of the book is “Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis”; however she said that if the book had been written in Latin by a native ancient Roman Latin speaker, the title would probably have been “De Harrio Potter et Philosophi Lapide.”

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My personal preference is for reading original-Japanese books, because I find it motivating to feel that I’m getting something out of the effort that I couldn’t have got by reading an English version[*]. But the important thing I think is picking something you want to read, whatever that is. And a lot of people did get really excited and into the Harry Potter books.

Reading a book which you’ve already read in your native language is I guess easier in some sense – you have the memory of it to help you through confusing passages. On the other hand you lose the “want to find out what happens” motive for keeping reading.

[*] I’m currently reading “私小説 from left to right”, which was intentionally written in an almost-bilingual style – mostly Japanese text but with a lot of tossed-in English phrases and sentences, because the viewpoint character is a Japanese expat living in the US. There is an English translation, but it loses a lot: the best the translator could do was to boldface the originally English parts.

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