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I'm specifically thinking of the image caption where "vol de mort" is translated from French to English as "escape from death".

(The specific translation is probably incorrect - Google Translate says "vol de mort" from French is "flight death". On the other hand, auto-detecting the source language results in Catalan, translating it into English as "wants death", a much more plausible phrase.)

So assuming French and Catalan magic-users knew of Voldemort and would not have said the phrase (making it a non-issue), would French and Catalan muggles have been identified if they had said the phrase?

Question not restricted to this use of Taboo, however that example is what made me think of it.

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    I'm sure Voldemort was intelligent enough to add and magic_ability = 1 to the spell. – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 21 '14 at 0:01
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    Also, I'm too lazy to look it up as an answer, but didn't JKR debunk the "Vol de mort" translation? – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 21 '14 at 0:03
  • In French: vol de morte = Deadly Flight, as in "A flight which is known for causing deaths" // In Spanish vol de morte = Desire of Death (as in wanting to die) – Oak May 21 '14 at 0:17
  • @Oak It's been a long time, but I think "morte" is pronounced differently than "mort".. – Izkata May 21 '14 at 0:29
  • @DVK As an intentional translation, yeah, I think so. But something along those lines does exist as a translation (even if it's not specifically what the image caption claims), making it possible for a speaker of that language to unintentionally say what sounds like "Voldemort" – Izkata May 21 '14 at 0:30
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"Sorry," said Ron, wrenching Harry back out of the brambles, "but the name's been jinxed, Harry, that's how they track people! Using his name breaks protective enchantments, it causes some kind of magical disturbance --- it's how they found us in Tottenham Court Road!"

"Because we used his name?"

"Exactly! You've got to give them credit, it makes sense. It was only people who were serious about standing up to him, like Dumbledore, who even dared use it. Now they've put a Taboo on it, anyone who says it is trackable --- quick-and-easy way to find Order members! They nearly got Kingsley ---"

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Chapter Twenty - Xenophilius Lovegood

As Ron points out - the name was jinxed to cause magical disturbances and break protective charms. They were trying to eliminate people who dared address the Dark Lord by his name. Of course - if a muggle had uttered the name - I would still expect that the magical disturbances will be triggered - but there won't really be any protective charms to break.

If you look at how the charms were set up to prevent the muggles from nearing the World Cup venue in Goblet of fire (don't have the book on me right now for quotes) - the charms were magical - but their effect was on muggles. Thinking along the same lines - I expect muggles WILL be able to trigger the taboo - however unintentional they may have been.

From the books, I didn't get the impression that Tottenham Court Road was a very 'magical' place. And in both cases that the trio broke the taboo, only the approximate location of the person who uttered the name was known to death eaters. Identifying the person who uttered it was up to them once they reached the place.

Of course - if the person in question was a muggle - all the more reason for them to be eliminated from a death eater's viewpoint.

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"Sorry," said Ron, wrenching Harry back out of the brambles, "but the name's been jinxed, Harry, that's how they track people! Using his name breaks protective enchantments, it causes some kind of magical disturbance --- it's how they found us in Tottenham Court Road!"

"Because we used his name?"

"Exactly! You've got to give them credit, it makes sense. It was only people who were serious about standing up to him, like Dumbledore, who even dared use it. Now they've put a Taboo on it, anyone who says it is trackable --- quick-and-easy way to find Order members! They nearly got Kingsley ---"

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Chapter Twenty - Xenophilius Lovegood (Quote via mustard)

We know from the quote above what the jinx does when Big ol Vs name is uttered, we can also infer from the books how accurate it is.

We know that it will break protective enchantments we also see evidenced that it reveals the point of origin for Big ol Vs name it does not say which wizard or their exact location the death eaters have to seek them out. This is evidenced in both Tottenham court road and when Fenrir and gang find them in the forest.

As for the muggle aspect or really the main aspect of this question. In what other part of the Potterverse have muggles been able to use Magic of any kind? The magical trace applied to underage wizard is not used on muggles which states that the ministry have no cause of concern where muggles possibly using magic is concerned.

We do know though that magic can be used on muggles but when placing the taboo would Big ol V care about muggles, would he not try to exclude them it would waste manpower he doesn't have. He is a great wizard and one could assume he would only be interested in "people who were serious about standing up to him, like Dumbledore".

We also do not know how big of an area the taboo affects i.e the ministry gets no information on the underage wizard trace for underage french wizards.

In conclusion I would say No the only possible reason I could see for Big ol V wanting to track Muggles who say his name would be there connection to Wizards who use his name but I also think he would underestimate their importance.

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We do not see the creation of the spell, or the implementation of how the Death Eaters get that information, so this is all conjecture. It very well could be

  • A map of England, similar to the Marauder's Map, that highlights a location where the word is uttered
  • A vision, similar to how Harry can see through Voldy or Nagini's eyes, or possibly similar to the 3rd-person view from a Pensieve.
  • A wayfinder-esque intuition that you must go "That Way!" for X amount of wizard-distance-units.
  • An enchanted globe that highlights the location of speakers, and an assumption that HP & Co will not flee to France.

Since we don't know the specifics, we have to make the assumption that Voldy & The Death Eaters can contain the spell to a certain geographic location, or only to magic-users, or both. If it was expounded on as only one or the other, there would be some fun anecdotes. For example, if it's just a location, Hermione could flirt up an touring underground indie metal band to change their name to "Voldemort", or any other amusing "hey say this" method to make the Taboo useless. If it was just Magic Users, The Potter Trio could have easily gone on a small tour through Europe to throw the DEs into a tizzy, or try to get the Beauxbatons to use the name, et cetera.

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