The Sphinx's Riddle

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English version

The riddle Harry solves is:

First think of the person who lives in disguise
Who deals in secrets and tells naught but lies.

The answer to this is 'spy'.

Next, tell me what's always the last thing to mend, 
The middle of middle and end of the end?

The answer is the letter 'd'.

And finally give me the sound often heard 
During the search for a hard-to-find word.

The answer is 'er,' which is actually a sound Harry often uses in this scene, but not in the series before this.

Now string them together, and answer me this, 
Which creature would you be unwilling to kiss?

The previous three words joined spell 'spy-d-er' = 'spider'.

Brazilian version

In the Brazilian version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the riddle Harry solves is completely modified. It goes as follows:

Primeiro pense no lugar reservado aos sacrifícios
Seja em que templo for.

"First think of the place used for sacrifices in every temple." The answer is not the most common word for 'altar' (altar), but the somewhat precious "ara".

Depois, me diga que é que se desfolha no inverno e torna a brotar na primavera?

"Then tell me, what loses its leaves in winter and blossoms once more in spring?" The answer is "rama", a fancy word for branches.

E finalmente, me diga qual é o objeto que tem som, luz e ar e flutua na superfície do mar?

"Lastly, tell me what object has sound, light and air, and floats on the surface of the sea?" "Bóia" is the Portuguese word for marker buoy.

Agora junte tudo e me responda o seguinte,
Que tipo de criatura você não gostaria de beijar?

"Now put it all together and answer me this: which type of creature wouldn't you like to kiss?" The answer to the three riddles forms the word "ararambóia", the Portuguese translation of boomslang.

Dutch version

Denk aan iemand die van vermommingen leeft,
Die altijd moet liegen en geheimen doorgeeft.

This part translates to "Think of someone who lives off disguises, / who always must lie and passes on secrets". The answer is "spion" (Dutch for spy).

Wat draaglijk slecht maakt en doenlijk tot straf,
Trek je vervolgens van dat eerste woord af.

"What makes bearable not so and makes the doable punishable, / you substract from that first word". The answer is "on" (the prefix "un-"), because 'unbearable' and 'undoable' translate to 'ondraaglijk' and 'ondoenbaar'.

Geef me als laatste de klank die je hoort,
Als je meer maakt van één naam of één woord.

"Lastly, give me the sound that you hear, / when you pluralise a word or a name." The Dutch suffix for pluralising names is '-en'.

Voeg die drie dingen samen en zeg me dan gauw,
Welk schepsel je niet graag een zoen geven zou.

"Add those three things together and tell me soon / which creature you would hate to kiss" is the last part. "Spion" - "on" + "n" forms "spin", Dutch for spider.

Finnish Version

This translation was done by siirihead at Livejournal.

Ensin mieti, mikä aina seuraa päivää, valoa sen
mikä lankeaa yötä ennen, edellä pimeyden.

"First think of what always follows the day, its light / what falls before the night, before the dark." The answer is hämärä, twilight. Harry doesn't know the answer first, thinking it could be ilta, evening.

Nyt kerro, miten lamppu syttyy, välähtää salama,
tapahtuu se millä kiire on kamala.

"Now tell how a bulb lits, a bolt of lightning flashes, / occurs that which is in a terrible hurry." The answer is äkkiä, suddenly - or quickly in spoken language.

Vielä nappaa alusta pois tavu viimeinen
ja lopun lopusta kirjain yksinäinen.

"Finally snatch the last syllable from the start / and the lonely letter from the end of the end." We get the words hämä and äkki from the previous two answers.

Kun osaat sitoa yhteen tulokset,
ja vastaat: Mitä otusta suostu pussaamaan et?

"When you know how to bind the results with something, / and you answer: which creature will you not agree to peck?" The thing needed to bind the results is the letter h, when we get the word hämähäkki, spider.

French version

The French version has the following riddle:

D'abord, pense au premier de ce qu'il faut apprendre
Lorsque l'on ne sait rien à l'âge le plus tendre.

This roughly translates to "First, think of the first thing one must learn/When one knows nothing, at the most tender age." The answer is the letter 'a', the first of the alphabet.

Ensuite, dis-moi donc ce que fait par naissance
Celui qui, au palais, a élu résidence.

"Then tell me that which he who has elected a palace as his residence does due to his birth." Harry quickly figures out that a king reigns (régne).

Enfin, pour découvrir la dernière donnée
Il suffit de la prendre à la fin de l'année.

"Finally, in order to discover the last clue / just get it from the end of the year." At first, Harry believes this to refer to Christmas (Noël), but that does not make sense with the other two clues; he then realises that the riddle refers to the end of the word "année", from which he obtains "ée".

Tu connaîtras ainsi la créature immonde
Que tu n'embraisserais vraiment pour rien au monde.

"You will thus know the foul creature whom you would not kiss for nothing in the world."

Harry joins the three (a-reign-ée) to form "araignée", the French word for 'spider'.

German version

The German version is very close to the English riddle.

Erst denk an den Menschen der immer lügt,
der Geheimnisse sucht und damit betrügt. 

This translates as "First think of the person who always lies, / who searches secrets and uses them to betray." That is a spy (in German: "Spion").

Doch um das Ganze nicht zu verwässern,
nimm von dem Wort nur die ersten drei Lettern.

That means "But to not dilute the whole, / take only the first three letters of the word." That leaves us with "Spi".

Nun denk an das Doppelte des Gewinns,
den Anfang von nichts und die Mitte des Sinns 

"Now think of the double of winnings, / the beginning of nothing and the middle of sense." The answer is "n".

Und schließlich ein Laut, ein Wörtchen nicht ganz,
das du jetzt selbst von dir hören kannst.

"And finally a sound, not quite a word, / that you can hear from yourself now." The answer is "ne", which, unlike the English "er", makes very little sense, because nobody would say "ne" while seaching for words.

Nun füg sie zusammen, denn dann wirst du wissen,
welches Geschöpf du niemals willst küssen. 

"Now string them together and you will know / which creature you'd never want to kiss". The answer is "Spinne", the German word for spider.

Icelandic Version

Hvað kallarðu þann sem elskar hún Hera
og höfuðfatið þungt þarf að bera?

"What do you call he who Hera loves, / and must wear a heavy hat?" The answer is kóngur, king. But since the riddle asks, "what do you call ...", the answer must be in the accusative case, kóng.

Hvað heitir svo það sem á hvolfi er enn,
og hvílir á vörum er hugsa menn?

"What is the name of that which is "still" up-side down / and rests on the lips of thinking men?" 'Still' in Icelandic is enn, which is also the name of the letter N; so it's really n upside-down, which is u.

Síðast vér spyrjum, hvað saman safnast,
undir sófa og engum gagnast,

"Lastly we ask, what gathers / under couches and is to no use?" The answer is ló, meaning dust bunnies.

Settu saman svörin þrjú
og svara oss
Hvaða skepnu myndir þú
aldrei gefa koss?

"Put together the three answers / and answer us, / what creature would you / never kiss?" The answer is kóng+u+ló=kónguló, spider.

Italian version

La mia prima è la terza di passione,
e tre ne vuole di sottomissione,

"My first is the third in 'passion' / and it takes three of it to make 'submission'". The answer to this is the letter 's'.

la seconda è colei che, amica o amante,
del cuore è la compagnia costante,

"The second is that which, friend or lover / is constant companion to one's heart". The solution is cara, which is Italian for "dear".

la terza è un albero dalla chioma folta,
nobile ramo di foresta incolta.

"The third is a tree with great foliage / noble branch of a wild forest". Harry doesn't know the answer to this at first.

Ora unisci le tre e dimmi, o tu, viandante:
nero, sei zampe, sporco e ripugnante,
veramente baciarlo è cosa grama.
Sai ora dirmi come esso si chiama?

"Now unite all three and tell me, o traveller: / black, six legs, dirty and repugnant; / to kiss it is truly a wretched thing. / Can you tell me what it's called?"

Harry first thinks of a spider (ragno), but realises that it has eight legs. Figuring out that the third part refers to faggio (beech tree), he guesses the correct response: scarafaggio (cockroach).

Japanese Version


"The first hint. Who lives in disguise? / Secret negotiations, the one who always tells a lie, is who?" The answer is a spy, so he uses the borrowed English word, スパイ or 'supai.'


"Second hint. 'Everyone' has it at the beginning / and 'still' has it along the way, what is the end of 'what'?" 'Everyone' translates as だれでも、(daredemo), 'still' is まだまだ、 (madamada) and 'what' is なんだ or 'nanda.' The answer is 'da'


"The last hint is just a sound. When you struggle to find a word / what is the sound you often make?" Harry stumbles and says 'aaa...,' and realizes the answer is the 'aaa' sound (which also comes at the end of 'da').


"Connect them together. Answer. / What is the being you don't want to kiss?" Harry, having not discovered the second answer strings the first and last ones together. In an extremely similar manner to the original English version, he begins muttering 'supai...a' and upon rethinking the line 'the being you don't want to kiss' realizes that the answer is 'supaida' or spider. At that point, he puts it into its proper Japanese form as 蜘蛛 or kumo.

Norwegian Version

Først: Det bløteste dun og den bitreste galle,
og nesten de dyreste løfter av alle.

"First: The softest down and the bitterest bile / and almost the most precious promises of all." The answer is "edder". The first clue hints to eiderdown (edderdun) and the second part to vinegar (eddik) and the third to oaths (eder).

Så: Hva åpner og ender i kakling og snakk,
hvor starter all kunnskap, hvor slutter all takk?

"Then: What opens and ends in cackling and talk, / where does knowledge begin, and all thanks end?" The answer is the letter K.

Sist: Hvor går din vei til den høyeste topp,
og hva ender den med, hvis du gjør et hopp?

"Last: Where goes your road to the highest summit, / and in what does it end if you make a jump?" The answer is 'opp,' as 'topp' and 'hopp' both end in 'opp.'

Tre spørsmål. Til sammen et vesen du helst
ikke kysser - si svaret, og du er frelst!

"Three questions. They make a creature you'd rather / not kiss - say the answer, and you are saved!" When the three answers are put together, the word is 'edderkopp', meaning spider.

Portuguese version

Pensa no que é essencial à vida
que apesar de forte nunca te intimida

"Think of that which is essential to life / that which, though strong, never intimidates you": the answer to this is "air" (ar).

Mais a palavrinha bem antes do nome
de Ginny, de Cho e de Hermione

"Plus the little word right before the name / of Ginny, Cho and Hermione". This refers to the article "a" (feminine article).

E que uma artimanha vai finalizar
Um bicho que não quererias beijar

"And a trick will finish / an animal that you wouldn't like to kiss". The end of the word "trick" in Portuguese (artimanha) is -nha, which, combined with "ar" and "a", forms aranha (spider).

Spanish version

Si te lo hiciera, te desgarraría con mis zarpas,
pero eso sólo ocurrirá si no lo captas.

"If I did this to you, I'd tear you apart with my claws, / but that will only happen if you don't figure this out." This refers to "arañar" (to scratch), a verb whose third person is "araña" (Spanish for spider), but the clues in this verse are, of course, insufficient to allow Harry to guess.

Y no es fácil la respuesta de esta adivinanza, 
porque está lejana, en tierras de bonanza,
donde empieza la región de las montañas de arena

"And the answer to this riddle is not easy / because it is far, in the lands of plenty / where the region of sand mountain begins". The region of 'sand mountains' is Arabia (Arabia), a word which starts with ara-.

y acaba la de los toros, la sangre, el mar, y la verbena.

"And that of bulls, blood, sea and verbena ends." This region is Spain (España), which ends with -ña.

Y ahora contesta, tú, que has venido a jugar:
¿a qué animal no te gustaría besar?

"Now answer this, you who have come to play: / which animal wouldn't you like to kiss?" The answer is "araña" (spider).

Swedish version

Tänk först på nån som ibland bergen bor
Och klampar fram, hemsk och förfärligt stor.
Säg sen, vad föregår en rock, som snurrar runt
Och ger dig utav garn en vacker bunt?
Det sista är utav det hela bara en
Lägg till de andra två, och svara sen,
Vad är det för ett djur du känner, som
Du aldrig skulle vilja krama om?

"Vad går före en rock, som snurrar runt... nu vet jag, det måste vara spinn... en spinnrock! Jätte... spinn... del, en jättespindel!"

Russian version

The Russian version is significantly different from the others. This translation was done by spamsink at LiveJournal.

Мой первый слог проворней всех слывет по праву - 
Он очень быстр на руку, ногу и расправу; 

"My first syllable is by right the swiftest / its hand is very fast, as well as leg and wrath." The answer to this is скор, the short form of the adjective "скорый" (rapid, quick).

Второй мой слог есть плод окружности решений - 
Её с диаметром законных отношений. 

"My second syllable is the fruit of circle of decisions, / of its lawful relationships with the diameter." This refers to pi (пи).

Мой третий слог - абстрактно названный мужчина - 
Ни цвета кожи, ни фамилии, ни чина. 

"My third syllable is an abstractly named male, / no skin color, no (last) name, no rank." The answer is он, the third person male pronoun.

Сложив их вместе, существо ты образуешь, 
Какое ты скорей умрешь, чем поцелуешь. 

"Combining them, you'll form an animal / that you'll die rather than kiss." The clues together spell out "скорпион" (scorpion).

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