How do I identify Magic: The Gathering languages?

In addition to English, Magic: The Gathering has been printed in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.

If you don’t recognize the language on a card, the simplest way to identify it is by looking for common keywords or checking the copyright line.

If you’re unfamiliar with East Asian languages, our guide below offers tips for differentiating Korean, Japanese, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.

Finally, there are some unique non-English cards that were printed in languages other than the ones listed above.

All language printings are documented in this chart.

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Copyright Line

The phrase “All Rights reserved,” was printed at the bottom of cards printed between the sets “Fallen Empires” and “Weatherlight.” You can use this fact to simplify the identification of older European language cards.

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English: ©{Year} Wizards of the Coast, Inc. All Rights reserved. 

Note: This scan is of a Korean card. Asian language cards may also feature this copyright in English.pasted_image_0.png

 

French: ©{Year} Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Tous droits réservés. 

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Note: The German Island (“Insel”) from Non-English Black Border #295 features a misprint French copyright line.

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German: ©{Year} Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

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Italian: ©{Year} Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Tutti i diritti riservati.pasted_image_0-5.png

 

Portuguese: ©{Year} Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Todos os direitos reservados.pasted_image_0-6.png

Note: There is an English misprint Inferno from the set 5th Edition that includes a Portuguese copyright.

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Spanish: (Similar to Portuguese) ©{Year} Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Todos los derechos reservados.

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Japanese: Some older Japanese cards display “イラスト” in place of the English “Illust.”, indicating the illustrator of the card.

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East Asian Languages

Magic: The Gathering has been printed in Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese. All are read left to right.

Korean

Korean utilizes the same solid dot-style period at the bottom right-hand side at the end of a sentence, as well as commas, similar to English. Korean letters are made up of mostly straight lines, plus ovals and circles. 

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Japanese

The Japanese writing system uses three main components:

  1. Hiragana: This alphabet is used for standard Japanese words and parts of speech. It can be described as tight curved, with no complete circles or ovals like the Korean alphabet.
  2. Katakana: This alphabet is used for words that did not originate in Japan (i.e. “Planeswalker”). It looks similar to Hiragana with more sharp angles.
  3. Kanji: These are Chinese characters. On newer MTG cards, Kanji sometimes have Hiragana helper text above them (furigana), particularly in the card name.

 

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Chinese

Chinese is not a single language, but a family of languages which have historically shared a single written form.

Today there are two ways of writing Chinese: Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.

Traditional Chinese is the classic writing system that has been used in the Chinese-speaking world for thousands of years. It’s currently used in Taiwan, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Simplified Chinese was introduced by the People’s Republic of China in 1954 to promote literacy. While very similar to Traditional Chinese, it simplified many common glyphs to fewer strokes and reduced the total number of characters in circulation. It’s currently used in mainland China and Singapore.

 

To differentiate Simplified and Traditional Chinese on Magic cards, consider the following: 

 

  • Punctuation Placement: In Chinese, a small circle marks the end of a sentence (as a period does in English).

 

      • In Traditional Chinese the circle “floats” in the middle of the line.
      • From 8th Edition on, in Simplified Chinese the circle “sits” on the base of the line like an English period.

 

  • Font Styles: The font on Traditional Chinese cards may look more square. On Simplified Chinese cards the font may look more like a brush stroke. 
  • Availability: Some sets were only printed in Simplified Chinese and not Traditional, or vice versa.
  • Specific Characters or Glyphs: A character is a series of brushstrokes (lines) that represents a word on its own or a word when combined with other characters. Some characters are rarely seen in Simplified Chinese, but typically seen in Traditional Chinese. 

 

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Example: Each of these Characters means “word” or “statement.” However, the leftmost portion of this character has fewer brushstrokes in the Simplified version.

 

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Unique Non-English Cards

The following cards are the only Magic cards printed in their respective languages.

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