We hear it all the time.
Good luck in your job hunting.
Good luck sa exam, ha?
Good luck to the newlyweds! (They really need it.)
To all the competitors in this badminton tournament, we wish all of you – good luck!
It sounds so positive, doesn’t it? Somehow it peps us up, this thought of someone wishing us well.
And it is universal.
According to www.omniglot.com, an online encyclopedia for writing systems and languages, “good luck!” in:
modern standard Arabic is bit-tawfīq,
Mandarin Chinese is zhù nǐ háoyùn,
Teochew Chinese is jok4 hok4, (methinks I prefer the Mandarin version, don’t you?)
Dutch is succes! Veel geluk!, (looks encouraging)
French is bonne chance!,
German is Viel Glück! Alles Gute! (akala ko Cute)
Formal Korean is 행운을 빌어요 haeng un eul bil eo yo,
Informal Korean is 행운을 빈다 haeng un eul bin da, (take note, K-pop fans)
Italian is buona fortuna!,
Japanese is ご幸運を祈ります! gokoūn o inorimasu, (makes me suddenly crave for Japanese food)
Thai is ขอให้โชคดี!, (don’t ask me how this reads… I just copied it)
Tagalog is Suwertehin ka sana / Magsumikap ka / Pagbutihin mo /
Mapasa iyo nawa ang suwerte (old fashioned)
Gud lak! (contemporary)
Mabuting Suwerte (literal translation; no one uses this in real life)
Yes, this phrase has been passed from one generation to the next and is used in several situations. Well-wishers utter Good luck! when someone is about to attempt something in life. It is usually an endeavor that needs encouragement… something to boost the morale. So we normally refrain from saying Good luck! to somebody before he/she brushes his/her teeth, watches TV, or those kinds of activities. We are talking out-of-the-ordinary undertakings here.
Or good luck might be wished upon someone who is going to do something that could bring harm to himself. Like going on a trip, participating in an extreme sport, working under hazardous conditions and taking an exam. (If he flunks the test, he might be harmed by a failing mark… and an irate father when he finds out.)
Whatever the intention of the wisher might be, we must admit that this greeting denotes an element of chance. In the final analysis, if there is good luck then there is also bad luck. (Ever heard of neutral luck before?) In our own lingo, mayroong malas at mayroong suwerte/buwenas. Games using dice, cards, wheel of fortune, roulette, dancing ping-pong balls (as in lotteries and bingo) all subscribe to the element of chance. There is that possibility to hit the jackpot they say. But the odds are against most of the players because there can only be one big winner. Those who “lucked out” rationalize the situation and comfort themselves by saying it’s just bad luck; I’ll get it next time.
To counter this law of probability and “load the dice”, many put on lucky charms, say special prayers, do some rituals, or wear lucky attire or piece of clothing such as socks, shorts, shoes, and even underwear! Apparently they were doing or wearing these when they experienced success at some point. By the simple law of cause and effect, these objects or circumstances must have had something to do with the favorable outcome and therefore were deemed lucky.
In badminton, there might be few situations when luck comes into play - a netcord shot for instance, when the shuttle trickles over the net, dropping like a stone into the opponent’s court. Surely this can’t be done on purpose … or can it? Another is when you hit (rather mishit) the shuttle with the frame of the racket, drastically changing the momentum and angle of your shot. If this turns out to be a winning shot, you are lucky, if not, your opponent is the lucky one. In short, situations on the court that are not intentional or what can be called pure fluke are chalked up to luck.
Others contend that luck is overrated; we are not prisoners of Lady Luck, fortune or fate. Life is what we make of it as the cliché goes. We train… we practice… we prepare for the game of life. Seize the day! This is the mindset of the pragmatist at the other end of the spectrum. “I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”
Finally, the Good Book has this to say about putting our trust in luck or in ourselves:
11What will I, the LORD, do if any of you reject me and my holy mountain?
I alone am the God who can be trusted.
What will happen to you for offering food and wine to the gods you call
"Good Luck" and "Fate"?
12Your luck will end!
16I am God! I can be trusted…
- Isaiah 65: 11-12, 16 (CEV)