Once in Korea, I was told by an adult student that my brother (based on a photo) was more handsome than I. I laughed, and she was like, "Really! He's more handsome." What good can come out of this uncalled for comparison? Is the implication that I should now go get plastic surgery??
Another time, an adult student said that I am "kind of handsome." Perhaps she didn't realize how unflattering that sounds.
Better to say nothing at all than to say such complimsults (I just made up this word.)
Chinese people also tend to be blunt about physical appearance, nicknaming people "fatso," asking what happened to your face, etc.
Last week, at the beginning of the week- a little girl came up to me and said several times, "Teacher is handsome". I said, "Thank you very much". I took it as a compliment but I wasn't too flattered, as I know Korean people often just throw these words around.
At the end of the week the same girl came up to me and said, "Teacher is ugly". I said, "that's not not very nice!" and she repeated, "Teacher is ugly".
I said, "why?" She said, "your hair is no good!". I laughed, especially as I new I was having a bad hair day and probably in need of a haircut. So I decided to be thankful for her feedback.
So this makes me wonder if the word ugly is a correct translation. Could 못생겨 mean something less harsh than the word ugly, like having an unkempt appearance? Because ugly means something very horrible- repulsive and hideous, not just you're having a bad hair day.
Also I have noticed that adults also throw around these words and call each other beautiful and handsome, without necessary having a romantic/sexual interest in the person. Also I have been called handsome by many guys as well in Korea, which was unusual for me. People can also call you handsome to try and flatter your ego when they want something or are looking for a favor.
No. It means ugly. Koreans are just blunt about appearances. My coworkers will tell me I look sick or tired without batting an eye. It sounds like your student was displeased witb your appearance that day. She just didn't have the more direct words yet to say exactly why.
I'm curious why you are not used to appreciating someone's appearance without sexual attraction? Korean men are a little looser with showing affection to their friends. Its pretty refreshing.
I know it means ugly, but I don't think it has the same connotation as the word ugly. Do you understand?
I also didn't say anthing about what I appreciate or what I am not used to appreciating. I just find it unusual and superficial the way they tend to throw around these words, and I have worked in 7 different countries.
Generally I have no need to comment on people's appearances at all. I only tend to call my girlfriend beautiful.
If you call someone ugly in an English speaking country you may face a negetive reaction or seriously hurt someone's feelings. In Korea too, it's an offense to insult someone in a public setting. So I think it's important to teach students not to go around calling people ugly.
In response, I asked the class whether or not they thought that particular girl was beautiful or ugly, and the boys said ugly. So it just shows how superficial they are when it comes to throwing around these words.
I'd say it's like unkempt like you said. Sloppy, awkward, uncool, tasteless, unfashionable are some other words I think are similar in connotation. It is true that Korean people are upfront about physical traits, but I think it's not as much of a value judgement as in the west. I think it's more just their personal opinion. It definitely causes some culture shock to some people.
That people throw them around so casually could mean they are less shallow--they realize these things are superficial and don't place too much meaning/worth in appearance, which allows people to express such things without the danger of offending people on the one hand or coming off as flirtatious on the other. That to me would be the more obvious explanation. That English speaking cultures are so careful with these words is a sign that appearances are given way too much importance.
I think it's part of the 외모주상주의 (lookism) culture. The pressure to be thin and pretty is extremely high in Korea. I've never had someone flat out call me ugly, but I'm always told that I "look sick" whenever I am not wearing enough makeup. I feel like it's a way of signaling that someone isn't following the rules or standards set by society. My friends told me these comments usually aren't meant as personal jabs. They're a blunt way of showing concern. However, saying "you are ugly" seems like something totally uncalled for.
I've lived in both Seoul and Busan, and the atmosphere in Seoul is much colder. People are busy doing their own thing and have a lot on their minds. Unfortunately, a lot of overworked people crammed into a high density space all trying to make a living doesn't always foster kindness. The levels of stress and competition in Seoul are through the roof.
From your anecdote, it sounds to me, rather than handsome/ugly, it's more like looking good/bad.
In the US, looking good/bad is casually thrown around everywhere and refers more about how presentable one is.
Like if your friend got a haircut, when you see him, you might say "looking sharp!", Or maybe "you look like s***!", Depending on the quality of the haircut.
"Handsome"/"ugly" are used in terms of attractiveness to potential romantic partners, and generally refers to your body's physical characteristics, rather than overall presentation, though it still depends.
Generally, "handsome" and "ugly" refers to the appearance of one's face.
생기다 = to come to being; to form. So it is used to describe the actual physical appeal.
잘생겼다 (well formed). Be handsome/good-looking
못생겼다 (poorly formed). Be ugly/unattractive
"To look" as a linking verb means "to show the likelihood or appearance of being".
Korean would use the pattern "v아/어/여 보이다" for this.
나빠 보이다. Look bad / 맛없어 보이다. Look uncool
좋아 보이다. Look good / 멋져 보이다. Look cool
(1) 못생겼다 describes something that took place in the past but the result is presently felt and may continue to be so.
In English, it is closely expressed by the present perfect: has been, meaning "was and still is".
못생겼다 = (was & is) ugly
(2) To describe a complete past,- "was but no longer is (at least till now)", probably it's best to use the distant past tense (past perfect)
못생겼었다 = (had been) ugly / used to be ugly
or to make use of some time adverbs or adverbials e.g. once; in youth; before surgery etc.
그녀는 "한때" 못 생겼어요 = She was ugly "once".
☆☆☆ Grateful for corrections/feedbacks from Native or Fluent Korean speakers.
In Korea I found that it's quite common for people, especially students to comment or make a judgement (in English class) about whether or not someone is "handsome" or "ugly". It's even in some of their English textbooks. They just throw these words around without really understanding the real meaning and implications.
I am wondering from a cultural standpoint...
In my culture any comments on a woman's appearance that isn't positive is frowned upon heavily, or the comment is used to show that you dislike the person. It is seen as more of an insult than just a difference of opinion. For some reason, comments about men's appearances are both said less and aren't taken as seriously (Though I will say that this is changing to about the same level of insult as with women.) So basically you almost never should say that someone is ugly in my culture unless you want the person you are calling ugly and probably also the people around them to dislike you, and it is seen as a negative thing to say.
But this a Korean course, so would it be offensive to say "너는 못생겼어요." to a close friend in South Korea or North Korea, or is this seen as somehow considerate, or as maybe way of showing raw honesty?
I probably won't be saying this sentence because of my culture, but I would still like to know from people native to North or South Korea how they feel about this, about how and where this sentence would be used, and about how normal or rude it is to say something like this in Korea.
I'm afraid it's not :( From Naver Dic: 못생겼다: 생김새가 보통에 미치지 못하다. https://ko.dict.naver.com/detail.nhn?docid=13882100 Only mentions the physical shape being below average.
Oftentimes the literal translation is not the correct translation because it is not natural in the other language...translating literally will often not make sense because often there is a different meaning with context or culture. But in this case the way you wished to translate in English is simply an unnatural way to speak and is really not what is intended in Korean when 못생겼어 is said to or about someone.
I do understand that it's unnatural in English. But I would certainly have understood that someone was not attractive if someone said this in any of the languages I speak (and this is not a way of speech in either of them). For me, the logic of the language is way clearer this way. I don't want to parrot phrases like a parrot - and I don't think that's Duolingo's goal either, with their often absurd phrases. So why not accept the litteral phrases as well?
Just like when I help my kids with French, I explain that it's "I call myself Marie" even though Duolingo says "My name is Marie". Noone would ever say "I call myself Marie" in English when being introduced to others, and Marie is their real name. Still, it makes it way easier for them to understand grammar etc than trying to shoehorn "m'appelle" into "name is". Or think that "je" can work for both "I" and "my". This is NOT an English course! I, and many more, are not here to learn the most usual ways to say specific things in English. We're here to learn Korean. Since the languages are so different, for most phrases 5-10 different translations, or even more, might and should be acceptable. Even the ones that sound weird in English. In addition, they need to find a way to give non-native English speakers some slack when it comes to the English phrases.
I see what you are saying, I think. Perhaps Duolingo is trying to facilitate learning by limiting options to what would be a more natural translation rather than a literal translation. My mom is an interpreter and this what she would seek to do, as a literal translation wouldn't make sense in either language most of the time. But it is good as you say to understand the literal translation and how sentences are being formed in a way that is different that English. I thought that for non native English speakers they do have an option to change the language? Or if there isn't they should definitely work on having that made.