What does the German Title for Ink Black Heart Mean?

Yesterday, twitter user ChrisMarple shared that the German translation title has been released, and it is Das tiefschwarze Herz. This struck me as a bit odd, as I couldn’t see the German word ‘tinte’ for ink.

As beautiful as the English language is, it can be somewhat imprecise. Depending upon which word is stressed The Ink Black Heart can mean:

A black heart made of ink.

Ink in the shape of a black heart.

An inky-black heart.

The heart may be the bodily organ, or may refer to the centre or core of a thing. All of this of course will be great fun for an author such as Rowling to create multiple reflections and resonances of the title. So what of the German title?

Das tiefschwarze Herz means ‘The deep-black [or jet-black] heart’, with no mention of ink. Another possible translation could have been Das tintenschwarze Herz, the lack of capitalisation making clear that ink-black / tintenschwarze is an adjective, and not to be confused with the noun druckerschwärze meaning printer’s ink.

So what does this mean for the new instalment? For German readers at least, this book is about an inky-black heart, and less likely about a tattoo. As a cautionary note, my German is at schoolboy level at best, any comments and corrections are welcome.


  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    The life-long German speaker I asked thinks Das tiefschwarze Herz is idiomatic, and can probably have the range and variety you suggest, whereas tintenschwarze would sound odd and not obviously make sense. When I asked, could you describe the colour of India ink in German as tiefschwarz, the answer was, you probably could.

  2. Nick Jeffery says

    Thank you David!

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