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This sounds very much like certain well-known Pidgin English phrases of Chinese origin such as Look-See or No-Can-Do, but I'm struggling to think what it could have originally been in Chinese.

Is Happy-Go-Lucky a Chinese Pidgin English phrase, and if so what was the original phrase in Chinese?

4 Answers 4

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According to the Oxford Dictionary - The earliest known use of the word happy-go-lucky is in the late 1600s. OED's earliest evidence for happy-go-lucky is from 1672, in the writing of William Wycherley, playwright. happy-go-lucky is formed within English, by compounding. Etymons: happy adj., go v., lucky adj. https://www.oed.com/dictionary/happy-go-lucky_adv?tl=true#:~:text=The%20earliest%20known%20use%20of,go%20v.%2C%20lucky%20adj.

And, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, in English, "happy-go-lucky" means "A happy-go-lucky person does not plan much and accepts what happens without becoming worried. Synonyms. carefree (無憂無慮). https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/happy-go-lucky

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  • Not of Chinese origin, then. Apr 1 at 23:20
  • Not to my knowledge. Famous Chinese-English phrases/slang are usually formed by word-by-word substitution, such as "people mountain people sea (人山人海)"; "long time no see ( 好久不見了). The direct substitution for "happy-go-lucky" would be "快樂走/去幸福/運", which makes no sense.
    – r13
    Apr 2 at 0:13
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Google Translate results for "Happy Go Lucky" is 無憂無慮 (carefree) is quite fitting.

Happy Go Lucky is also similar to a few Chinese expressions:

隨遇而安 - take things as they come (be content no matter what you encounter)

遊戲人間 - live life like it is a game (not take anything seriously)

聽天由命 - let gods and fate decide everything (resign yourself to fate)

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I normally use the idiom 萧摇自在, Xiāo Yáo Zì Zài, meaning: unfettered, unrestrained, at ease.

It comes from 白居易, Bái Jūyì, of the Tang Dynasty, titled, "View from Above the Bodhi Temple", 菩提寺上方远眺, "Pú tí sì shàng fāng yuǎn tiào"

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  • I think 逍遙自在 is more in line with "duty-free - 無官一身輕".
    – r13
    Apr 2 at 17:12
  • I'm picturing a shop in Shanghai Airport named 逍遙自在 and offering reduced prices on wines and spirits... Apr 8 at 22:36
  • I am not sure whether you are joking, but, "Duty-free" as interpreted by @r13 is not in the sense of "Custom-tax-free" He meant the sense that one has no "worries", "responsibilities", "duties", "burdens", and thus "free-and-easy", which means a person could also be "Happy-go-Lucky", because 逍遙 means "carefree", and 自在 means, amongst other definitions, "unrestrained", "unhindered" by any immediate "worries", "duties", like mundane, everyday work. Apr 9 at 2:50
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I think 隨遇而安 fits best, although the "happy" part is missing.

Maybe 樂天知命

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