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To be or not to be

I was brushing up my reverse French tree when I came across Etre ou ne pas etre. Six words that make up a very famous quotation in English. I found it interesting that it would show up in the English from French tree. Which got me wondering - What countries study Shakespeare? I am in the US, and I know he is studied and performed here, Canada, and in the UK. Is this quote famous the world round? Please let me know if Shakespeare is commonly studied in your native county and what country that is. Thank you in advance.

P.S If a French speaker could tell me why it's ne pas etre and not n'etre pas, I would be most appreciative. Merci.

December 11, 2017



I think the phrase has become somewhat of a winged word around the world. I can speak only for Germany, but here you definitely know it under "Sein oder nicht sein" or - more complete "Sein oder nicht sein, das ist hier die Frage" (To be or not to be, that is the question). I also remember some analysing of Shakespeare sonnets in the English lessons back at school.


I remember some years ago, when Germany had its first (?) "Big Brother" show on tv (the one where they lock a bunch people up and "document" all they do with lots of cameras), there was this guy who didn't know who Shakespeare was. IIRC a lot of those people weren't the brightest, but they couldn't believe anyone could not know Shakespeare.

I agree that Shakespeare and his "To be..." line are definitely something the average person knows. We only study Shakespeare in English class, though, because obviously we have German classes where we talk about German literature (although I remember they mentioned Boccaccio (Italian) at some point). And, less obviously, school doesn't seem to care about literature we don't specifically learn the language of, which is rather sad.


Thank you for the explanation. Some day when I get to Canada again, I plan to try poutine. I love cheese curds.


The bug is pretty widespread.


I assume because he wrote so very long ago and that the British Empire was so large in his heyday that his works would be spread out across the globe, but it made me wonder, do they study Shakespeare in Finland or China or South America? I love having a world-wide audience to answer my questions.


Not only do they study it, it is performed widely in original and translation. It’s huge in Mongolia, India, all over the world.


And India and the Middle East.


Shakespeare died in 1616, when England and Scotland were separate and independent kingdoms ruled in personal union by the same king (James I. and VI. respectively). At that time, England’s overseas possessions were largely limited to Ireland; Jamestown (Virginia); Bermuda; Cuper’s Cove (Newfoundland); and a few trading factories in Indonesia and India. (Other colonies existed at that time, but were subsequently abandoned.)

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