Everyone who’s seen the Harry Potter movies knows how Voldemort got his imposing name. The deadly Harry Potter villain clearly had a love of anagrams because he took his muggle name ‘Tom Marvolo Riddle’ and mixed it up until he got “I am Lord Voldemort.”
The revelation that Tom Riddle is He Who Must Not Be Named was quite a shock when Potter fans found out in the Chamber of Secrets, but it posed a challenge for people translating the books and fantasy movies into different languages. You see, while Tom Marvolo Riddle is an anagram for ‘I am Lord Voldemort’ in English, it’s not in, let’s say, Spanish.
That’s why in Spain, Voldemort’s muggle name is Tom Sorvolo Ryddle which can easily become “Soy Lord Voldemort”. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to keep the mystique while also trying to keep the original wordplay, and this has resulted in the Harry Potter character having some truly bizarre names in some countries, most notably in France, where he got a wonderfully silly name.
In France, Voldemort’s real name is “Tom Elvis Jedusor”. That’s the only way the person working on the translation could get to “Je suis Voldemort”. So not only does Harry’s arch nemesis share a name with the king of rock and roll in France, but he’s also lost his lordship, which has to sting.
As silly as the name may sound to none French speakers, it’s actually quite a clever bit of wordplay. Not the Elvis bit. That’s ridiculous. No, according to Adventures on the Bookshelf, Voldemort’s French surname Jedusor is a phonetic spelling of ‘jeu du sort’, which translates to twist of fate, which seems like an apt name for a dark wizard.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Marvolo Gaunt is called Elvis when we meet him in The Half Blood Prince; they didn’t try and retcon it. If you love the Wizarding World, check out our guide on the Harry Potter cast, or if you want to know what the future holds for the series, we have a guide to Fantastic Beasts 4.