The most difficult part of reading these books, though, is figuring out which of the many unfamiliar words are made up (this usually means consulting several dictionaries before I realize my error), though the Spanish translators tend to stick closer to the spellings of the original.
Is that a better approach than the refashioning of J. K. Rowling's world of invented vocabulary? Daniel Hahn, writing in The Guardian on translating Harry Potter, doesn't think so:
The article also mentions the extraordinary pressure imposed by the secrecy that keeps each new book under wraps until the moment sales begin, compounded by the presence of bootleg versions:
Spanish readers will find most names and invented words unchanged ("¿Hagrid, qué es el quidditch?"), or translated literally. So the Spanish is faithful in one obvious sense - but while the names may be unchanged, does the name Quirrell really sound as nervous, stammery, querulous in Spanish? Does Hufflepuff sound as ineffectual, dumb and huggable as it does to English ears?
And then there's the wordplay, the prophecies and rhymes (like those of the sorting hat - the sombrero seleccionador). There are also the spells and the anagrams. (Tom Marvolo Riddle may be an anagram of "I am Lord Voldemort"; but it's not an anagram of "Je suis Voldemort", so in France he's Tom Elvis Jedusor.)
It's a race against publishers' deadlines, of course; in certain countries, where the quality of second-language English is very high, it's a race to get the book published in (say) Norwegian, or Danish, before your entire market decides not to bother waiting for the translation, and you find that you're trying to sell it to people who've already read the book in the original.There's also a mention of a product of translation I have never considered: that each translation offers a glimpse from a new angle into the forces behind its choices:
In some cases it's a race against unofficial translators, too; in China, where enforcement of international copyright law leaves something to be desired, IPR parasites churn out their quick and shoddy renegade versions more or less with impunity. These range from fan-produced translations published online, to brand-new books in the HP series sold on street corners, like the rather peculiar attempt at a book five that appeared while Rowling was in fact still hard at work in Edinburgh writing it (Rowling shares this distinction with Cervantes, who was understandably taken aback to find the second part of Don Quixote published unofficially before he'd had the chance to get round to writing it).
Other fans have found that when they scour their translations they turn up valuable plot clues. Book six has a note mysteriously signed with the initials "RAB", which many readers have speculated may refer to someone in the Black family, a relative of Sirius Black (most likely his younger brother Regulus); the Dutch translation gives the initials on the note as RAZ - and if you know that in Dutch Harry's godfather is called Sirius Zwarts, this change suggests some interesting intelligence.(Let me take this moment, by the way, to announce my faith in Severus Snape. He did what he did to earn standing and save Draco from committing a horrible crime himself. He will be vindicated!)