I don't know whether to laugh or cry

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ilocas2, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. ilocas2 Senior Member

    Hello, is this sentence idiomatic in your language? If it's idiomatic, how do you say it? Thanks

    I don't know whether to laugh or to cry.


    Nevím, jestli se mám smát nebo brečet. (I don't know whether I should laugh or cry)
  2. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek:

    «Δεν ξέρω αν πρέπει να κλάψω ή να γελάσω»
    [ðen 'ksero an 'prepi na 'klapso i na ʝe'laso]
    lit. "I don't know whether to cry or laugh".
    I haven't heard it used often (and I think it's an anglicism) but google gives 23800 results, so...
  3. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod (AL mod)

    French (lower Normandy)
    In French, this is totally idiomatic:
    "Je ne sais pas si je dois rire ou pleurer." (literally: I don't know if I must laugh or cry)
    "Je ne sais pas s'il faut rire ou pleurer." (literally: I don't know if one must laugh or cry)
  4. ahmedcowon Senior Member

    In Arabic:
    لا أدري هل أضحك أم أبكي /lâ adri hal aḍħaku am abki/

    In Egyptian Arabic:
    مش عارف أضحك ولا أعيط /mesh ‘aref aḍħak walla a‘ayyaṭ/

    Both are idiomatic and literally means: I don't know whether to laugh or to cry
  5. franknagy

    franknagy Senior Member

    In Hungarian
    Nem tudom, hogy sírjak-e vagy nevessek.

    sír = cry
    nevet = laugh
  6. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    ik weet niet of ik moet lachen of wenen

    lachen = to laugh
    wenen = to weep, to cry
  7. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    In Turkish, we rather rhetorically ask: Güler misin ağlar mısın?
    lit. Would you laugh or would you cry?
  8. arielipi Senior Member

    אני לא יודע אם לצחוק או לבכות
    ani lo yode'a im litzkhok o livkot
    i dont know if to laugh or to cry

    אם זה לא היה עצוב היינו צוחקים
    im ze lo haya atzuv hayinu tzokhakim
    if it wasnt sad we were (=would have been) laughing
  9. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    En tiedä, itkeäkö vai nauraako. I don't know whether to cry or whether to laugh.
    En tiedä, pitäisikö minun itkeä vai nauraa. I don't know if I should cry or laugh.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
  10. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)

    Não sei se choro ou (se) rio.
    Não sei se chore ou (se) ria.

    Somewhat exceptionally, both the indicative (above) and the subjunctive (below) can be used in this sentence, with the same meaning.
  11. learnerr Senior Member

    In Russian, phrases like "я не знала, смеяться мне или плакать" ("I did not know whether to laugh or to cry", somehow this one is sounding better to me in the feminine version, maybe because of how syllables are organised, maybe because the suggestions being proposed in the sentence are emotional) are well possible. Also: "Было бы смешно, если бы не было так грустно" ("it would be a cause to laugh, if it was not so sad") — this sentence is a common expression.
  12. arielipi Senior Member

    Hebrew (i guess) borrowed adhak; the root is ד-ח-ק and it means "to have a [recurring] joke" mostly on something/someone, as in to make fun of..
  13. ahmedcowon Senior Member

    It's also interesting that the words for "laugh" (aḍħak\litzkhok) and "cry" (abki\livkot) share the same roots in both Arabic and Hebrew
  14. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Chinese is the shortest: 哭笑不得
    A four-character idiom, literally "cry laugh no can".
    Example: 他真是让我哭笑不得. "He really made me 'cry laugh no can' - didn't know whether I should cry or laugh."
  15. Euganeo New Member

    In Italian we have the same expression: Non so se ridere o piangere!

    But also: Rido per non piangere! (I laugh not to cry)
  16. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    The more formal equivalent would be 啼笑皆非 tíxiào-jiēfēi
    Another chengyu, character-by-character: cry laugh both not
  17. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    very very interesting thread, because in Hungarian only the order cry-laugh is possible, laugh-cry is non-idiomatic
    I wonder if the Czech: Nevím, jestli mám brečet nebo se smát (a Hungarian would use that one) sounds terrible, too.
  18. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    There is no difference. Both variants (laugh-cry, cry-laugh) are common in Czech.
  19. franknagy

    franknagy Senior Member

    Indeed in this case the order of verbs is fixed in Hungarian. I don't no why.
    "Mert a nyúl szőrös és nem borotválkozik." = "Because the rabbit is hairy and he does not shave."
    I know this coarse denial of explanation in Hungarian.
    It worths a separate thread.
  20. Radioh

    Radioh Senior Member

    Sydney, Australia
    In my language, people use both orders, but I somehow prefer the laugh-cry order.
    'Tôi không biết nên cười(laugh) hay khóc(cry)' - I don't know if I should laugh or cry.
  21. Holger2014 Senior Member


    Ich weiß nicht, ob ich lachen oder weinen soll = Ich weiß nicht, ob ich weinen oder lachen soll
    [literally: I know not if I laugh or cry ought_to = I know not if I cry or laugh ought_to]

    Often people replace 'ich=I" by 'man=one' in order to make it sound less personal, more general.
  22. animelover Senior Member

    Eastern Germany
    ワラ    ナ    ワ
    Warau beki ka, naku beki ka, wakaranakunattekita.

    It kind of sounds like a bookish translation, though.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2014
  23. Dymn Senior Member

    Catalan, Catalonia
    In Catalan a literal translation would be: No sé si riure o plorar.

    But I think this following one is more common: Ric per no plorar (I laugh not to cry)
  24. Radioh

    Radioh Senior Member

    Sydney, Australia
    Are you saying that 'No sé si riure o plorar' and 'Ric per no plorar' can (roughly) have the same meaning in Catalan ?
  25. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    The same goes for Chinese. Reversing the order is not unidiomatic, though; it's just plain wrong.
  26. Nastoshka New Member

    I'm not a swedish native speaker, but I'm sure this idiom exists also in Swedish:

    Jag vet inte om jag ska skratta eller gråta

    and as in German, some people use it with the impersonal pronoun ''man''

    The order is not important: skratta eller gråta / gråta eller skratta

    Jag vet inte om man ska skratta eller gråta
  27. 810senior

    810senior Senior Member

    As for Japanese there's an idiom such as 泣いても笑っても(whether you cry or laugh) meaning whether you like or not or when push comes to shove.

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