Spellbinding: the classical roots of magical spells in Harry Potter | OxfordWords blog

Looked into the origins of spells and magic words. This is an article on the origins of spells in Harry Potter. They mostly have a Latin origin, probably because some of the English language itself comes from Latin and that J.K. Rowling took Latin classes in university as well. 

Spellbinding: the classical roots of magical spells in Harry Potter | OxfordWords blog

Spells could thus be viewed as symbolising the creative power of language. The choice of Latin or pseudo-Latin words for the spells is very important. First of all, this is a way of distinguishing the everyday ‘worn out’ words for things from the spells which could make these things appear or happen. Latin is the ideal language to draw from, but, since for a better effect the spells need to be understood by the reader without great difficulty, the option of pseudo-Latin words, which would still make a substantial difference and give the illusion of magical power (expelliarmus certainly sounds more like a spell than something like ‘weapon fly away’), is preferred. Latin has, rightly or wrongly, been connected with magic, since it brings to mind the medieval times and witch hunts, and is therefore the ‘expected’ language to be used. As Robert Sutherland points out,

In English, the long words which produce emotional responses are often Latinate in origin. Their effect perhaps lies in their carrying with them as a result of their derivation an air of scholarly authority — scientific, juridical, ecclesiastical — which, because of the words’ restricted use and magisterial sound, conveys to hearers ignorant of the words’ meanings a profound finality. (Sutherland 223)

Like names in Rowling’s work, spells are very specific and informative. Spells are in fact nothing more than the expression of a wish in a formulaic way and require nothing else apart from concentration and a flick of the wizard’s wand. There is no unintelligible ‘hocus pocus’; Reducio reduces the size of an object, Lumos produces light, Reparo repairs, and so on. The power of language is absolute since all one has to do to make something happen is to correctly pronounce the word.

Other than taking away the words we didn’t understand, we tried to highlight those words.  
‘Cause sometimes when you come across sth that’s new/unfamiliar/strange/out of place, you tend to go back it or hover over it. We picked those words/phrases out from the text, and covered everything else. By using a simple gate fold, you first only see the selected words/phrase. Only when you open the fold, then you’ll see the whole text and get to understand what it is. 

We took it further and did our final outcome by having multiple folds. We overlaid each fold on top of each other so that they are in a way intertwined. We took out different words/phrases on each layer so that as you flip open each fold, you’ll see more and more text. It’s also another way of presenting how we read the paragraph again and again until we finally got to understand the meaning of it.  

day project on typography

When we first read the paragraph, we didn’t understand every single word in it and couldn’t make out entirely what it was trying to say. But after reading it a few more times, we came to understand what it was trying to say. We also looked up some of the words that we didn’t understand, such as ‘syngery’, ‘stooges’ etc. We realized syngery was a spelling mistake (intentional?) and it should have been ‘synergy’ instead. 

We were also given a B3 paper format. we aren’t exactly familiar with this B3 format as we don’t use it very often. Being unfamiliar with both the given text and format, we decided to work on the confusion and unfamiliarity of it for our project. 

We started off with taking out the words we didn’t understand from the text, illustrating how it was like we first read the text, literally how it looked like in our minds. We tried various ways of doing it, leaving blanks, scratching out the words and putting them upside down, hence reconstructing what it was like. 

We then tried to combine this into the format of the paper. And tried it with multiple folds and jumbling up the text.