I look like that too when I bite into a very salty piece of fish!

 

Most of us know しょっぱい as “salty” but it has another meaning- “wistful, embarrassing, emotional”

According to 日本語俗語辞書(Japanese Slang Dictionary):
しょっぱいとは、弱い・情けない、または辛い・悲しいの意。
“Shoppai” means weak, shameful; harsh, sad.

On the origins of the use of しょっぱい as ‘wistful’-
しょっぱいとは辛い、悲しいという意味で使われる。これは悲しいときに流す涙が塩辛いことからきている。大半はしょっぱい思い出といった形で過去の回想に使われ、現在進行していることを形容することは少ない。
Basically, しょっぱい denotes the saltiness of your tears as you reflect on a memory from the past (しょっぱい is rarely used to describe an event happening in the present).

I heard しょっぱい used in the drama ホタルのヒカリ in which the main character, Hotaru, describes love letters as しょっぱい- wistful and emotional.

Seems like a great word to color one’s Japanese! If only we could say stuff like “As I reflected on salty memories of the past” in English!

Advertisements