Do you ever get confused and/or frustrated by the acronyms and abbreviations that appear in conversations and texts these days?
Well, my mother tongue is full of abbreviations and truncated phrases, and they have been around for quite some time! If translated word-for-word, our hello is “today” and our good-bye is “then”… WTF, you might think? Through years of usage, they were reduced from “today is such a nice day to be seeing you” and “then with much regret I shall leave you now” to just the first word.
BTW, there are many many more greetings and salutes that make absolutely no sense when translated word-for-word (and of which my people have difficulty explaining the meanings), but I will not get into that here. Rather, I would like to introduce you to one you can easily understand – “good year!”
OK, it is two words, actually… but you get the gist. It is a short-form for “may you be successful in welcoming in a good new year.”
JTLYK, maybe the words sound like an expression to wish one another a happy new year, but they are used only up until the new year begins (we have another phrase to exchange in the new year for celebrating a new start and hoping to maintain a good relationship). Saying these two words to someone means you wish they will be rewarded with a peaceful end to this year for all their efforts they have put in to start the new year with a clean slate.
“Good year!” is normally exchanged between friends and colleagues – those whose preparation efforts for the new year you know well. But I think that the majority of those I come into contact with, even if I do not know them well, put in just as much effort as any other to get ready for the new year… or would have, if they had the time and money to.
So, although it usually requires me a lot of courage to go up to someone and say “today,” I am inclined to tell everyone “good year!” when I see them for the last time this year. That includes the janitor at my apartment, the bank tellers and grocery registrars I have come to recognize, and the cab driver who took me home after the year-end party tonight.
Maybe because there is a sense of camaraderie I feel between them and me for working this late in the year so we could welcome the new year without unfinished business.
Maybe because there is deep appreciation in me for their services to help me in bringing in the new year successfully.
Or maybe because whenever I tell them “good year!” many of them first look stunned, but they break out in smiles and tell me “YMMD… good year to you, too!”
There are so many words we can blurt out, but I find that there are surprisingly few that can express as much kind and warm thoughts as these two words and be received at face value, needing no translation – it is highly unlikely that the recipients, even those you will never again cross paths with, will find any malevolence or sarcasm in them. And when said out loud, they make you proud that you can think of someone other than yourself and can make it be seen and felt. Besides, what is not to like about words that can be reciprocated, with smiles!
I very much cherish these two words and all the magic packed in them. My mother tongue is often categorized as one of the hardest languages to be able to use with mastery, in part because of its many weird abbreviations – heck, I have spoken it all my life and I still have no good control over it! – but I admire how it has come to condense so much love and care for one another in these short-forms.
I understand that language is a living thing and it must constantly evolve to adapt to fit usage of new generations of speakers. So, even though I get confused and frustrated by some new abbreviations, I do not wish to consider them as destructive or degrading… so long as they are able to pack in them all the magic to make both the speakers and recipients find camaraderie and appreciation in one another.
With all my heart, “good year!” to everyone who has come here for the last time this year. I hope the magic of the words will not be lost in translation!
A last note: I am at a loss for words to hear that American actress and singer D.R. has passed away just a day after her daughter has. Will be singin’ in the rain tonight… RIP.