A Chinese & Japanese Phrase for 2021

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Small Sure Hapiness

With the beginning of a new year, Lyrebird would like to introduce a Chinese & Japanese Phrase for 2021 as our best new year wishes to everyone.

This phrase is “小確幸”

Chinese characters were first introduced to Japan in the 5th century via Korea. It is called Kanji (漢字) in Japanese, one of the three scripts used in the Japanese language together with Hiragana (平仮名,ひらがな) and Katakana (片仮名,カタカナ). While Chinese characters were abandoned in Korea (Hanja) in the 20th century, they are still widely used in modern Japanese.

One of the special features of the Chinese language is to make new words using existing characters. However, “小確幸” was not created by the Chinese, it was created by a famous Japanese novelist – 村上春树 (Murakami Haruki). In Japanese, it reads “しょうかっこう” (shokakko).

The words “小確幸” was from Murakami’s collection of essays ランゲルハンス島の午後 (Afternoon in the Islets of Langerhans) published in 1986. Murakami also mentioned he got this idea from an award-winning story by American short story writer and poet, Raymond Carver – “A Small, Good Thing,” which was published in 1983. Murakami translated this book to Japanese in 1988. The Japanese title is “『ささやかだけれど、役にたつこと』.

In his book “うずまき猫のみつけかた” (Uzumaki Neko No Mitsukekata) published in 1996, Murakami wrote about “小確幸”. Source page 126 and translated by Google Translate.

生活の中に個人的な「小確幸」(小さいけれども、確かな幸福)を見出すためには、多かれ少なかれ自己規制みたいなものが必要とされる。たとえば我慢して激しく運動した後に飲むきりきり冷えたビールみたいなもので、「うーん、そうだ、これだ」と一人で目を閉じて思わずつぶやいてしまうような感興、それがなんといっても「小確幸」の醍醐味である。そしてそういった「小確幸」のない人生なんて、かすかすの砂漠のようなものにすぎないと僕は思うのだけれど。

Seikatsu no naka ni kojin-tekina `shōkakkō'(chīsaikeredomo, tashikana kōfuku) o miidasu tame ni wa, ōkare sukunakare jiko kisei mitaina mono ga hitsuyō to sa reru. Tatoeba gaman shite hageshiku undō shita nochi ni nomu kirikiri hieta bīru mitaina mono de,`u ̄ n,-sōda, koreda’ to hitori de mewotojite omowazu tsubuyaite shimau yōna kankyō, sore ga nanto itte mo `shōkakkō’ no daigomidearu. Soshite sōitta `shōkakkō’ no nai jinsei nante, kasukasu no sabaku no yōna mono ni suginaito boku wa omou nodakeredo.

In order to find a personal “small but sure happiness” in our lives, we need more or less self-regulation. For example, it’s like a chilled beer that you drink after patience and strenuous exercise. The real thrill of “Sachi”. And I think that a life without such “small certainty” is just like a faint desert.

So what is “”小確幸” in English? As Murasaki explained it means “Small but Sure Happiness”.

This new Japanese – Chinese phrase “小確幸” became very popular in Taiwan and then spread to all Chinese speaking areas. The traditional Chinese characters, which are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and other overseas Chinese communities, are the same as the Japanese Kanji “小確幸”. The simplified Chinese characters, which are used in China, Singapore, Malaysia and other overseas Chinese communities, the “確” becomes “确”. However, both traditional and simplified Chinese have the same pronunciation: “Xiǎo Què Xìng”.

There is no need to translate this Japanese-Chinese phrase “小確幸” between Japanese & Chinese. Same characters but different pronunciations.

No matter you are learning Japanese or Chinese with Lyrebird, hope you can remember this phrase “小確幸” for 2021 and enjoy the “Small but Sure Happiness”.

This is not to say you should have a big dream. Dream big and enjoy the small achievements. Like many of our students, they have big dreams to obtain JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) or HSK (Chinese Language Proficiency Test) certificates, but they also enjoy the new things they learnt at each lesson and celebrate when they pass each level.

If you have a dream to learn Japanese or Chinese in 2021, we will help you to achieve a lot small happiness during the year. Be “小確幸”.

For more details about our in-person and online classes, visit our 2021 Japanese & Chinese Classes.

At the end, let’s watch a Chinese song “小確幸” to enjoy this happy moment.

We couldn’t find a Japanese song for “小確幸” but we found a Korean song with Japanese translation. Extra small happiness. In fact, 小確幸(소확행.ソファッケン) was the No.1 2018 buzzword in Korea.

We wish everyone “小確幸” in 2021.

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