The Various Versions of Voldemort’s Real Name, Listed In Order of Levenshtein Edit Distance from “Tom Marvolo Riddle”, with additional commentary

I was going to add an explanatory paragraph here, but then I didn’t.

Language Riddle’s Name Lev.Δ J-W.Δ ‘Voldemort’ Anagram
English Tom Marvolo Riddle 0 0.000 I am Lord Voldemort
Estonian Tom Marvolon Riddle 1 0.018 Mina Lord Voldemort
Turkish Tom Marvoldo Riddle 1 0.064 Adim Lord Voldemort
Slovakian Tom Marvoloso Riddle 2 0.033 A som i Lord Voldemort
Portuguese Tom Servolo Riddle 2 0.074 Eis Lord Voldemort
Russian Tom Narvolo Reddl 3 0.088 Lord Volan-de-mort
Basque* Tom Narivoloz Riddle 3 0.137 Lord Voldemort naiz
Spanish Tom Sorvolo Ryddle 3 0.167 Soy Lord Voldemort
German Tom Vorlost Riddle 5 0.105 Ist Lord Voldemort
Czech Tom Rojvol Raddle 5 0.109 Já Lord Voldemort
Ukranian Tom Yarvolod Redl 5 0.119 Ya Lord Voldemort
Italian Tom Orvoloson Riddle 5 0.156 Son io Lord Voldemort
Latin Tom Musvox Ruddle 5 0.248 Sum Dux Voldemort
Bulgarian Tom Mersvoluko Riddŭl 6 0.116 Tuk sŭm i Lord Voldemor
Hebrew Tom Vandrolo Ridl 6 0.161 Ani Lord Voldmort
Catalan Tod Morvosc Rodlel 7 0.291 Sóc Lord Voldemort
Serbian Tom Mervolodomos Ridl 8 0.158 To smo mi Lord Voldemor
Romanian Tom Ruvel Doodler 9 0.184 Eu Lord Voldemort
Belarusian Tom Val’Dor Redl 9 0.199 Lord Val’Demort
Lithuanian† Tomas Malvoras Ridlis 9 0.206 Aš Valdovas Voldemortas
Swedish Tom Gus Mervolo Dolder 10 0.232 Ego sum Lord Voldemort
Norwegian Tom Dredolo Venster 10 0.249 Voldemort den Store
Hungarian Tom Rowle Denem 10 0.259 Nevem Voldemort
Faroese Tom Evildo Reger 10 0.270 Eg eri Voldemort
French Tom Elvis Jedusor 12 0.306 Je suis Voldemort
Finnish Tom Lomen Valedro 13 0.206 Ma olen Voldemort
Esperanto Tom Vlades Mistero 13 0.267 Mi estas Voldemort
Icelandic‡ Trevor Delgome 14 0.307 Eg er Voldemort
Dutch Marten Asmodom Vilijn 15 0.361 Mijn naam is Voldemort
Slovenian§ Mark Neelstin 15 0.485 Mrlakenstein
Danish Romeo G Detlev Jr 16 0.414 Jeg er Voldemort

* Good try, Basque, but there are too many Is in NARIVOLOZ

† Some sources have LORDAS instead of VALDOVAS. This isn’t an anagram either way (count the Ms, or Is).

‡ If you know what Neville’s toad was named in Iceland, let me know.

§ Well the anagram is as elegant as any, Slovenia, but changing “Voldemort” and “Tom Riddle” is somewhat cheating.

 

Ok, so, why is is that the Romance and Slavic language versions generally just run with an embellished middle name, but the Scandinavian language versions are so tortured? “Riddle” is a Germanic word, so it seems weird that none of them opted to keep it, or a cognate.

My guess is the J-G of the first person pronoun is just really hard to work into a proper name (especially, perhaps, with a V already called for). The Swedish translator cleverly opted to put the reveal into Latin, the Norwegian phrase breaks the form completely, the Danish translator managed to get “Jeg er” in there, but at the cost of making Voldemort’s birth name “Romeo G[åde] Detlev, Jr”.

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named indeed.

The X’s Daughter

Update: this post by Emily St. John Mandel didn’t exist when I posted the below, but is a much better analysis of the same subject, and you should read it.

There is an trend in contemporary publishing that seems to have exploded over the last ten years or so, of having novels titled “The X’s Daughter”, where X is a profession or similar descriptor. I hadn’t realised how popular the trend was, until browsing round Amazon for a few minutes found over thirty titles, twenty-six first published since 2000. My theory for the current explosion of titles is that it’s possibly in some part due to the success of “The Bonesetter’s Daughter” by Amy Tan. Here’s a list.

Not quite fitting the pattern, but worth mentioning for it’s profound lack of originality:

The snowclone is spreading into other relationships as well. The Time Traveller’s Wife (then later The Rector’s, the Footballer’s, the Traitor’s), The Gambler’s Nephew (c.f. the Magician’s), The Colonial Gentleman’s Son, etc. It’s almost tempting to find out if there’s some important structural reason why these stories are so evasive about the actual title character, in favour of their more interesting relative. But not tempting enough to make me read thirty novels from the “contemporary fiction” section.