Chinese Translation of Modal Verb Shall in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure

Bian Wu


Modal verbs are a type of verbs which express meanings such as volition, ability, possibility, necessity, etc. In Shakespeare’s plays, modal verbs are characterized by their large numbers and rich meanings, with some of their meanings different from their present-day English descendants. For instance, shall has the meaning “order to”, besides “intend to”, “ought to”, “be to”. This paper focuses on the differences among the Chinese translations of SHALL in Measure for Measure, by Zhu Shenghao, Liang Shiqiu, Fang Ping, Ying Ruocheng, and Peng Jingxi, its aim being to find out SHALL’s exact meanings and appropriate ways to render them in Chinese. The result shows that SHALL in Measure for Measure appears 86 times with 4 different meanings, which are “intend to”, “ought to”, “order to”, “be to”. Liang Shiqiu and Peng Jingxi tended to adopt formal equivalence in their translations, and Zhu Shenghao, Fang Ping and Ying Ruocheng tended to adopt functional equivalence in their translations.

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