Tuesday, 9 December 2014

glücksbringer oder ganz happy

It always used to strike me as strange that one word in German, Glück, signified both luck and happiness—but somehow satisfying, comforting since the association with fortune, an unexpected windfall, is coloured as positively as they effort to create good cheer—until realising that English had a similar construction and derivation.

The state of being happy also harks back to a chance occurrence in the parent terms happenstance and mayhap, though these words are usually reduced to just something happening in the neutral sense, and English has borrowed a lot of different ways to convey fate, luck or fortune, as well as the more facetious sense of wishing lotsa luck. It turns out the French way of expressing the same feeling, heureux, covering both the portentous having derived from the Latin word for art of augury and the exalted, forms this zeugma. The ultimate source of this divining and the lucky omens themselves, however, are both unknown.  I wonder if in other languages the same connections hold.