The Klingon Hamlet

A Digital Humanities Compendium

composed by: Ryan Schroeder


They say you can't truly understand Shakespeare until you've read him in the original Klingon. All jokes aside, a translation of a play about a coward into a language spoken by a warrior race is bound to be intriguing. Herein, two primary aspects of Klingon as opposed to English have been examined: the presence of fear proclamations, and the use of honorifics. In Klingon, it is considered a cultural taboo to admit fear in yourself, yet this is exactly what Hamlet spends a considerable portion of the play doing in English. On the flip-side, English has no set way to address those in a higher station than you, but Klingon has a suffix for that very purpose. By comparing these two concepts across languages, it is possible to gain a better understanding of the translators, the fictional Klingons, and, perhaps, even Shakespeare himself.

It should be noted that this project forms a proof-of-concept for a potential full-blown research project, rather than a full research project in itself. This "compendium" was put together by a single student over the course of a single semester, and as such only two of the six acts in Hamlet were analyzed.

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