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Voldemort's Identity Crisis

Voldemort's Identity Crisis

It goes without saying that translation requires a great deal of knowledge – of languages and cultures, and of specialised subjects. It is this skillset that allows translators to both understand the source material and to convey it to its new audience.

But translation also requires creative and innovative solutions, particularly when it comes to innocuous elements of the source text that cannot be simply transferred from one language to the other.

Enter He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the villain of JK Rowling’s bestselling Harry Potter books.

Translated into more than 80 languages worldwide, the tale of the boy wizard is a translator’s dream (or nightmare) when it comes to puns, plays on words and invented terminology, such as spells and the names of magical creatures. One such translation dilemma is the name of the series’ villain, Lord Voldemort.

Voldemort’s full name – Tom Marvolo Riddle – functions in the series as an anagram, I AM LORD VOLDEMORT. But the canny translator is aware that if ‘I am Lord Voldemort’ is to be translated, for example into French (Je suis Voldemort), the anagram no longer works.

The solution? Voldemort has a different name in each translation.

Some of our favourites at MTT are:

Tom Elvis Jeudusort (tackling “Riddle” with the French “jeu du sort”, meaning “twist of fate”).

Romeo G Detlev Jr (Danish).

And finally, Trevor Marvolo Delgome (Icelandic).

If you foresee a tricky element in a document you need translating, from anagrams to non-editable diagrams, we are always happy to work with you to find a solution. You can speak with our friendly team on the phone on +44 (0) 844 856 1086 or by email at

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