To be or not to be, that is the question

  • Linguist, can I suggest a ही in between /yah/ and /hai/ (ie, a यही)? I feel this will add some emphasis which will match the English translation more.

    I can't quite put my finger on why, but I am not a fan of this translation. It just doesn't sound right...if I heard it spoken it wouldn't dawn on me that this is a direct copy of the English saying. Not to say that it's incorrect, know what I mean?

    Another thought.

    /hotaa hai ya nahii.N hotaa hai, yahii hai savaal/

    I think this might be a better translation. I feel that /hona/ in your example implies that "something is about to/might happen." How do you feel?
    Firstly, I definitely agree about the "yahii" suggestion - it gives it more emphasis like you said (To be or not to be, this is the question)

    "honaa" is actually the direct translation of "to be" (from which we get "maiN hooN, tu haiN, woh haiN, etc) but like you said, it sounds as though it means "happen" here (like "abhii kuch hone waalaa hai").
    But I'm not sure about your translation either - it sounds like it means "to happen" there as-well. Yours to me sounds like it means "Whether it happens or doesn't happen, this is the question".

    Lugubert has given the idiomatic translation:
    Anand: The Modern English-Hindi Dictionary:

    To be or not to be? जीवित रहें या मर जायें? jiiivit raheM yaa mar jaayeM

    My clumsy effort towards a 'literal' translation: 'may be living or may go dead'.
    The literal translation to that would be "stay living or die".

    If this is what your dictionary says, then obviously this is the equivalent of the English version.

    One other thing - in Urdu I would change /sawaal/ to /maslaa/ - just like the Arabic and Persian. /maslaa/ is the perfect word to use here since it means "problem" in the sense of "something that needs to be looked at/sorted out". (It's better than just "sawaal"). I don't think "maslaa" is a proper Hindi word though.

    Να ζει κανείς ή να μη ζει, ιδού η απορία (na ze kanes e na me ze, edou e aporea - I have a hard time transcribing the Greek "ee/e" sound. In the above, read all the "e"s as the sound in "be").
    На български: "да бъдеш или да не бъдеш? Тоба е въпросът!" (in bulgarian)

    Türkçesi: '' Olmak ya da olmamak.. İşte bütün mesela bu.!'' (in turkish) it's more used for theatre texts.
    I, personally, don't understand why Hamlet is being so euphemistic even in the most critical moment of his fate: to exist or to cease to exist blah, blah, blah...

    In Korea as well, this famous play has been translated and staged tens of thousands of times so far, where only one translation of this phrase can be, and has been, employed: 사느냐, 죽느냐, 그것이 문제로다.

    Translated back into English, however, this Korean version of the monologue becomes far more downright: to live on or to kill myself, that's the question.

    Sorry, if Shakespeare lovers are upset with our translation.
    Bheith ann nó gan bheith ann - is í sin an cheist
    is a suggested translation.

    Bod neu beidio â bod – dyna’r dewis
    is the usually cited equivalent: note that it literally means
    Be or cease to be - that is the choice.