7 Geeky-Cool Translations of Hamlet

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Ser o no ser, esa es la cuestión. Être, ou ne pas être, telle est la question. Att vara eller inte vara, det är frågan. Sein oder Nichtsein, das ist hier die Frage. Lenni vagy nem lenni: az itt a kérdés.

Hamlet has been translated into hundreds of languages. But normal human languages can be so, well, normal. Here are seven translations of Hamlet that go beyond the normal, right into the awesome.

1. Klingon

There's a line in one of the Star Trek movies where a Klingon character says, "you have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon." Some members of the Klingon Language Institute decided Wil'yam Shex'pir's classic needed to be restored, so they translated the whole play into Klingon. Here's a taste:

taH pagh taHbe’. DaH mu’tlheghvam vIqelnIS.
(One either continues or doesn’t continue. Now, I must consider this sentence.)
quv’a’, yabDaq San vaQ cha, pu’ je SIQDI’?
(Is it honorable, when, inside the mind, one endures the torpedoes and phasers of aggressive fate?)
pagh, Seng bIQ’a’Hey SuvmeH nuHmey SuqDI’,
‘ej, Suvmo’, rInmoHDI’?
(Or, when one obtains weapons to fight a seeming ocean of troubles,
And, by fighting, one finishes them?)

2. LOLspeak

Writer Mandy Keifetz created a beautiful interpretation of the existential ponderings of Lolcat. He's deeper than we knew.

Iz or no iz:
iz hed-skratcher
iz moar good haf hed liek
sry no can haz cheezburger?
Or do teh invisible kung-fu,
an by dis oh noes dey wuz al ded, srsly?
Iz ded; iz slepe; iz end
an fru slepe we sez no moar bummin,
iz cheezburger an kek an kookeys; we can haz?
Iz ded; iz slepe; slepe, mebbe dreem?
Dis teh hol in da bukkit, oh noes!
Cuz in ded slepe, iz kwazee dreem
iz ovah, oh noes!
Iz dis maik lawng lief bummin.

3. Perl

Perl is a programming language that lends itself well to poetry because its commands are recognizable as English vocabulary words and variables are referred to by names. This is a Perl poem by Colin McMillen that is both an interpretation of Hamlet's soliloquy and a functioning program. If you run it, it will output, rather eerily, "We end the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to at line 14."

my ($question, $to_be, $asleep); # version 0.1
 my $author = "Colin McMillen";
 my $apologies_to = "William Shakespeare";
 my $to_be = 1;
while ($to_be || (!$to_be)) {
 $question = "that";
 if (suffer($slings && $arrows_of_outrageous_fortune)
 or
 (take_arms_against($sea_of_troubles) && by_opposing() eq "end +them")) {
 do {
 $to_be = 0;
 $asleep = "no more";
 die "We end the heart-ache, and the thousand".
 " natural shocks that flesh is heir to";
 } while ("'tis a consumation devoutly to be wish'd.");
 }
 }
 sub suffer {
 return true;
 }
 sub take_arms_against {
 return true;
 }
 sub by_opposing {
 return "end them";
 }

4. Emoji

This captures Hamlet pretty succinctly.

5. Facebook Hamlet

Sarah Schmelling, wrote a hilarious book of Facebook interpretations of classic literature after she published this version of Hamlet at McSweeney's. A sample:

Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Hamlet are now friends.
Hamlet wonders if he should continue to exist. Or not.
Hamlet thinks Ophelia might be happier in a convent.
Ophelia removed “moody princes” from her interests.
Hamlet posted an event: A Play That’s Totally Fictional and In No Way About My Family
The king commented on Hamlet’s play: “What is wrong with you?”
Polonius thinks this curtain looks like a good thing to hide behind.
Polonius is no longer online.

6. Choose your own adventure

Ryan North, of Dinosaur Comics, started this wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to produce an illustrated choose-your-own-adventure version of Hamlet. It hasn't come out yet, but the 15,000-plus backers who put up almost 30 times the original funding goal of $20,000 will get first dibs when it does.

7. Lego animation

It's not the skull but the cowboy hat that makes this soliloquy so spooky. Enjoy!

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March 6, 2013 - 10:00am
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