Don’t worry, be happy

I was sitting in the bar at which a social group of teachers usually meets, at the time we usually meet, but I was by myself, because everyone else has gone away on holiday already. Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ came on the sound system. I got wondering about how to translate that into Korean. I know the negative imperative verb form, but not the verb worry, and I know the positive imperative adjectival verb form and the adjectival verb happy.

I checked don’t worry on Google Translate when I got home. It depends on your politeness level. Plain speech (said to same-age friends or juniors) is 걱정하지 마 (geok-jeong-ha-ji ma), which clearly does not fit into the rhythm of the original English. Standard polite speech (said to general acquaintances in semi-formal situations) is 걱정하지 마세요 (geok-jeong-ha-ji ma-se-yo), which even more clearly does not fit the rhythm.

Be happy is 행복 해 (haeng-bok hae) in plain speech, which does actually have the right number of syllables, but doesn’t fit the meter, or 행복 하세요 (haeng-bok ha-se-yo) in standard polite speech, which doesn’t and doesn’t.


One thought on “Don’t worry, be happy

  1. Na gabh dragh – bi toilichte!

    Just out of interest, there is a phrase used in Gaelic which is “gun dragh” – it’s literally “no worries”, used to refer to doing something or just general frame of mind.


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