This will be useful…
…when trying to explain what “aegyo” is.
I think the concept of 애교 is similar to the Chinese idea of 撒嬌/sa jiao, or the way I’ve heard it most, sai-nai (from Taiwanese).
On a baseline level, it means acting cutesy, like a kid, but it has an exaggerated, affected and almost manipulative connotation, which causes many people to recoil. Aegyo behavior often features in the context of pouting or whining, wheedling to get something, be it affection or shiny, new things.
Apparently it makes many native Asian men weak in the knees, or at least soften up. Not sure if it’s really a positive or negative though – I get called sai-nai a lot by extended family when I’m back in Taiwan, and I feel kind of insulted. My dad will say I shouldn’t be. I guess it’s the perceived affectation that ignites my repugnance…
Such an interesting cultural feature though. Your thoughts? (And is there a Japanese version?)
Some extra links for people interested in further reading and thoughts:
- Love Lost in Translation: Sajiao and Other Chinese Customs of Affection
- Turning the Tables on Sajiao: When Men Fight Back
- Foreign Words Difficult to Translate into English
- Top 10 Signs a Girl Has Fallen in Love with a Man (comes up in the last listed item, and people’s comments are also interesting :)
- Aegyo, Oppas and Dirty Old Men
- Being Aegyo in Korea
- Urban Dictionary’s entry on Aegyo