Ever since J.K. Rowling announced the existence of Ilvermorny and American Wizarding culture, I have been annoyed by the term “No-Maj,” a.k.a. Muggle. This one word takes away some of the magic of the Harry Potter universe for me. Since it is apparently an American wizarding term, I, as an American, get to complain about it. My annoyance at “No-Maj” was renewed when I read the screenplay Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. As I read it, I found Tina, a person who works with foreign wizards, apparently doesn’t know what a Muggle is. Maybe Rowling is making a statement about Americans with that scene, but I don’t buy that Tina would not know that one common British term.
The history of the American Wizarding community is that Isolt Sayre, raised by a Gaunt, was one of the first witches in the New World and founded Ilvermorny. This is basically the founding of American Wizardry. If most children learn anything about the Wizarding World by attending Ilvermorny, it would make sense for them to learn all of their Wizarding terminology at Ilvermorny.
At some point early on in schooling, the students would have to learn the difference between humans with magic and humans without. In the original seven Harry Potter books, it seems everyone learns the word “Muggle” just before entering Hogwarts, at the latest. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the movie) and Pottermore confirm that American Wizards call Muggles “No-Majs.” My problem with this lies in the history that Rowling laid out. There is no way that Isolt would not have heard what a Muggle is from her dear Aunt Gormlaith. The woman, like the rest of the Gaunts, hated Muggles with a passion, so it stands to reason that Gormlaith would have talked about Muggles. Knowing this, why would Isolt have stopped using “Muggles” in favor of “No-Majs”?
Perhaps the change in terminology happened after Isolt was alive. I know that “No-Maj” is short for “No Magic,” but why did this become the popular word? Did one of her students popularize the word? I don’t know the answer to either of those questions.
It is possible that it had something to do with the Salem Witch Trials (apparently, witch hunts meant nothing in Europe). If there is so much wariness of Muggles in the U.S., I don’t understand why that would warrant using a new word to describe Muggles. Does that keep Muggles from finding out about the Wizarding World from their Muggleborn and Half-Blood children? I think that they would still be suspicious of “No-Maj.” That is even more obvious, especially out of the mouths of babes. I don’t see that it would help with secrecy, assuming American wizards are logical.
I’m unsure how this word came about, but it’s annoying. Daniel Radcliffe told everyone to “stop freaking out over ‘No-Maj'” in 2015, stating that us Muggles have different words for the same thing in the U.S. and the U.K. I’m sure that American wizards would use other terminology, to an extent, but I don’t believe that “Muggle” would become “No-Maj.” For example, we might say “vacay” instead of “vacation.” Since many of our words are the same, I think if we were going to change “Muggle,” we would say “Mug” or “M.” No one would shorten “Magic” to “Maj”—and certainly not “No-Maj.” I don’t like the word “No-Maj,” and it isn’t believable to me that that word would develop in the United State’s much shorter wizarding history.
What do you think about the word “No-Maj” or any other thing that J.K. Rowling spun, concerning North American wizards? Did you like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?