JK Rowling hit on something rather special when she dreamed up the term Muggle to describe non-magical members of the human population, so it was always going to be a challenge to bottle lightning twice.
When we learned that Muggles in the USA would be known as ‘No-Maj’ in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them we responded accordingly, with a bit of ‘who’s been at the firewhisky?’ humour and the odd Harold and Madge from Neighbours joke.
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Now we’ve got a THIRD term to contend with – the new French word for Muggle, as revealed by Fantastic Beasts director David Yates. The second film in the franchise will take us across the channel, where we’ll discover another very different magical community.
“[The wizarding world in Paris is] quite glamorous, it’s quite beautiful. There’s a community that lives alongside the muggle community, it’s much freer than in New York, where there’s segregation,” Yates told Entertainment Weekly. “Paris is a bit like England, actually, not so hung up about the differences between the two. Magical people can freely move into non-magical communities as long as they’re discrete about their talents…”
And if they don’t have those talents? Well, then they’re called “non-magique”, which is not the phrase used in French translations of the novels. The original term featured in the French editions of the Harry Potter books was actually ‘un Moldu’.
Love it or loathe it, it’s here to stay. And with every new film in the series reportedly set in a new country, there’s plenty more where it came from.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens in UK cinemas in November