19

I am curious to know if during their numerous encounters with one another, could Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort have talked to each other using Parseltongue if they had chosen to do so? Or does Parseltongue only work between humans and snakes?

41

Parseltongue definitely does work as a method of conversing between humans. This can be seen in Chapter Ten of Half-Blood Prince when Morfin Gaunt speaks Parseltongue to Bob Ogden:

“You understand him, I’m sure, Harry?” said Dumbledore quietly.

“Yes, of course,” said Harry, slightly nonplussed. “Why can’t Ogden — ?”

But as his eyes found the dead snake on the door again, he suddenly understood.

“He’s speaking Parseltongue?”

“Very good,” said Dumbledore, nodding and smiling.

In this instance Ogden couldn’t understand it, not being a Parselmouth, but shortly thereafter Marvolo Gaunt speaks Parseltongue to Morfin, which Morfin does understand:

Mr Gaunt spoke out of the corner of his mouth to Morfin.

“Get in the house. Don’t argue.”

This time, ready for it, Harry recognized Parseltongue; even while he could understand what was being said, he distinguished the weird hissing noise that was all Ogden could hear.

In fact, later in Chapter Seventeen, Voldemort himself speaks Parseltongue to Morfin:

“YOU!” he bellowed. “YOU!”

And he hurtled drunkenly at Riddle, wand and knife held aloft.

“Stop.” Riddle spoke in Parseltongue.

So we definitely know that it can be done, and that Voldemort could do it. As for whether Harry could do it that is less clear. In theory he should be able to do it, but Harry notoriously had difficulty speaking Parseltounge when not talking to a snake. For instance, in Chapter Sixteen of Chamber of Secrets:

“Harry,” said Ron. “Say something. Something in Parseltongue.”

“But —” Harry thought hard. The only times he’d ever managed to speak Parseltongue were when he’d been faced with a real snake. He stared hard at the tiny engraving, trying to imagine it was real.

“Open up,” he said. He looked at Ron, who shook his head.

“English,” he said.

Harry looked back at the snake, willing himself to believe it was alive. If he moved his head, the candlelight made it look as though it were moving.

“Open up,” he said.

Except that the words weren’t what he heard; a strange hissing had escaped him, and at once the tap glowed with a brilliant white light and began to spin.

However, in Chapter Nineteen of Deathly Hallows Harry was able to use Parseltongue to open the locket with no issue at all, so perhaps he had progressed in his Parseltongue abilities:

“One . . . two . . . three . . . open.”

The last word came as a hiss and a snarl and the golden doors of the locket swung wide with a little click.

If that is the case, he might have also been able to use it to speak to another person, though considering that he wasn’t acquainted with any other Parselmouths besides Voldemort he wouldn’t have had much opportunity to do so.

| improve this answer | |
  • 4
    Also, in book seven, Harry has a conversation with Nagini in Paseltongue. – Acccumulation Jul 26 at 23:48
  • 3
    Not only that, he didn't realise he was using it at the time, which was a minor plot point immediately after. – htmlcoderexe Jul 27 at 7:58
  • 2
  • 9
    @Acccumulation Does Nagini count as "not a snake" at this point? Just saying that at the time that book was written, I don't think the idea that Nagini used to be a human was even considered (that wasn't revealed until the 2nd movie of the spin-off prequel series), and even if it was, we know that she's pretty much all snake by this time. – Darrel Hoffman Jul 27 at 14:00
  • 5
    @DarrelHoffman Nagini was hidden inside the body of Bathilda Bagshot at this time, so Harry was not aware that he was talking to Nagini at this point. But understanding Parsel without realizing that it is Parsel was not a unique situation, as said, that happened before he even knew that there is a thing called Parsel. And it seems, that he’s also able to answer in Parsel without realizing. Only deliberately speaking Parsel without having heard it shortly before, seems to require looking at a snake or a picture of a snake, like opening the Chamber of Secrets or a Horcrux. – Holger Jul 27 at 14:14
9

From the Harry Potter Wiki Parseltongue can be spoken and understood by all Parselmouths. However, the two speakers need to be highly experienced with speaking the language.

Aside from serpent-based creatures, Parselmouths can communicate with each other with the language, as Harry understood Tom Riddle's commands to the Serpent of Slytherin, and the House of Gaunt communicate with each other almost exclusively in Parseltongue. While inherited, Parseltongue usually requires the speaker to face a snake-based creature or object shaped like a snake (e.g. a carving); more proficient speakers may be able to speak it at will, as the Gaunt family was very proficient in the language — enough so for Morfin to speak to Bob Ogden with it, while Voldemort could speak to the Statue of Slytherin to release the basilisk.

So Harry and Voldemort can speak to each other in Parseltongue with little to no help.

| improve this answer | |
  • 8
    Voldemort definitely could. Harry in the other hand... I wouldn't be so sure. – Roberto Jul 26 at 13:35
  • 3
    It would be useful if you could include the book quote that shows this can happen – Valorum Jul 26 at 13:56
  • IIRC Diary-Horcrux-Pre-Voldemort-Tom-Riddle understood it perfectly when Harry tried to speak to the basilisk to maybe persuade it to his side, because Tom said to Harry that Parseltongue wouldn't be of any use to him now, since it would follow only his (Tom's) commands now -- but i can't currently recall if this was in the book or in the movie. – BMWurm Jul 26 at 14:00
  • 1
    @BMWurm It was definitely in the movie. Books, I'm like 90% sure it was there. – sai-kartik Jul 26 at 14:11
  • @BMWurm "He's trying to get the snake to not attack him" is not exactly a large leap to make in that context. – Acccumulation Jul 26 at 23:47
0

in the last battle-scene with voldermort , when harry exchanged magic-blowed the scene has a section where both exchange Parseltongue if you watched carefully just slow mo-with VLC you will get the section

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.