Tibetan editor translates 'Harry Potter'

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"Expelliarmus!" Norgy Puchunggal cries, repeating the name of a spell cast by Harry Potter, the titular star of the globally popular "Harry Potter" book series by English writer J.K. Rowling. Norgy Puchunggal is a Tibetan editor who has been working to translate Rowling's books into Tibetan.

"I'm addicted to the magic world created by Rowling, which has plenty of differences in comparison to our Tibetan religious world," says Norgy Puchunggal, who works as the head of the Tibetan editing office of the Tibetan Youth Newspaper.

"Tibetan magicians can curse their enemies without seeing them in person, whereas Harry needs to use his wand," he explains.

Norgy Puchunggal read his first "Harry Potter" book in 2003 and was immediately hooked. "At that time, there were few people in Tibet who even knew about Harry Potter. I was recommended to read this book to my child by one of my colleagues," he says.

Norgy Puchunggal says the Chinese version of one of the "Harry Potter" books is one of his favorite novels. "As soon as I picked up 'Harry Potter,' I couldn't put it down," says the 40-year-old man, who compares the series to the "Heroes of the Marshes," one of China's four great novels.

"It is also hard to stop me whenever I start to translate the book, because by that time, I have already entered the book's magic world," he says.

It took Norgy Puchunggal nearly two years to finish translating "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the first book in the series. He completed the second book, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," in just one year.

Striving to make the Tibetan versions as attractive as the original editions, the cover art for Norgy Puchunggal's translations retains some of the original English.

It could be said that Norgy Puchunggal retains a child-like heart, as the "Harry Potter" novels are not the only youngster-oriented media he enjoys. He says that he is particularly fond of watching cartoons with his daughter. "I really like China's 'Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf' and the 'SpongeBob SquarePants' series from overseas," he says.

"In comparison to other children's books, 'Harry Potter' is very deep and sophisticated. The books express concepts like loyalty among friends, braveness and keeping a positive spirit when facing adversity," he says.

Not content to simply read all of the books in the series, Norgy Puchunggal has also seen all of the "Harry Potter" film adaptations.

"The last movie of the series is coming. I'm looking forward to and feeling sad about the end of the 'Harry Potter' era. It is sad to see the end," he says.

"For people like me who have read the books very carefully, I think that the movies are not as good as the books, because many of the details that make the books so fascinating are missing from the films," he says.

Norgy Puchunggal says he does not earn much money from the translation work. Rather, he says that he does it mainly out of personal interest and passion.

During a business trip to Shanna, a relatively wealthy region in south Tibet, he found that his work had come up against an obstacle of sorts. Parents in region's urban areas said that they did not want to purchase the translated books because they did not think they were related to their children's studies.

On top of that, Norgy Puchunggal found that children in the region's rural areas couldn't afford to purchase the books, which are sold at 28.8 yuan (4.22 U.S. dollars) apiece.

In order to reach more readers, Norgy Puchunggal is currently working with the Tibet Youth Foundation, hoping to find sponsors who will help him provide the books to rural children for free.

There are many editors and translators like Norgy Puchunggal who have dedicated themselves to translating Chinese and overseas works into Tibetan. Tibetan translator Dreling Wangdu has translated the works of Shakespeare, while another translator named Phunnor has introduced the children of Tibet to "Grimms' Fairy Tales."

"We often get together and talk about translating; sometimes we even have intense arguments about how to translate a specific word. This is because of the love and passion we have for our works," Norgy Puchunggal says.

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