One movie which is mentioned repeatedly on internet sites and videos about Korean movies is My sassy girl (2001) (trailer, Wikipedia). I remember a student mentioning it in 2006-2008 and have read about it, but never seen it. Yesterday I watched the trailer and found a Youtube channel which includes extended clips (possibly the whole movie in extended clips, which is of dubious legality, but I suspect that the producers put up with it as it’s ultimately publicity for them). As I was watching, my wife asked me what I was watching, so I gave the title in English and she said she didn’t know it. I said “It was super-famous at the time”. 

This morning she said something else about it, calling it My sexy girl, which is a reasonable mishearing. Koreans use 섹시, but as far as I know, it’s used more to mean cute rather than sexy. I said sassy again very carefully, and she said she didn’t know the word, or the movie. Then she said “What’s the Korean title?”. I didn’t know, so I had to check. It’s 엽기적인 그녀, which translates literally as Bizarre girl. Only then did she recognise the movie and say that she’d seen it.

To me, bizarre is one step (or even two steps) beyond sassy. The latter is probably a good thing, if that’s your taste in girls, but the former is probably a bad thing. From what I’ve seen of the movie, she is closer to bizarre than sassy. In fact, for most of the time, she seems in need of professional help.

Bizarre is Italian “of disputed origin”, while sassy comes from saucy, with sauce deriving from late Latin salsa and ultimately from Latin sal, salt. So my sassy girl is in fact my salty girl (salty is also used with many of the same meanings, but it probably a little stronger; compare a sassy joke with a salty one).

엽기적인 may have a broader meaning than bizarre. At one stage while experimenting with online translators, the word geeky cropped up fleetingly, but three of the translators I used provided only bizarre. But all three seem to provide one translation when there are clearly others: 배 returns only ship, when even a low-level Korean language learner knows it also means dog and pear (and probably other words).

Google Ngram Viewer shows that bizarre is overwhelmingly most often used to describe behavior, and less often way, situation, form(s), appearance, shapes, ideas, effect(s); that is, not people directly. Sassy is most often used to describe mouth, smile, grin, way, girl, woman/women, tongue, talk, kid


One thought on “sassy

  1. Pingback: No hugging, no kissing | Never Pure and Rarely Simple

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