Thu, Nov 08, 2018 - Page 15 News List

‘Buhaoyisi’ culture and profuse politeness in Taiwan: BBC
台灣人超愛講「不好意思」 BBC大揭秘

Entertainer Melody Yin says “buhaoyisi” when admitting that she likes to be called slim during an exclusive interview with Bella magazine in June last year.
藝人殷悅去年六月接受Bella儂儂雜誌專訪時說「不好意思」,因為她喜歡被稱讚好瘦。

Photo courtesy of Bella magazine
照片︰Bella儂儂雜誌

For the outsider, Taiwan may seem like the world’s most apologetic country, obsessed with saying buhaoyisi (a term similar to “excuse me”), according to a BBC report titled “The island that never stops apologizing” last week. In fact, the article said, “the culture of buhaoyisi reveals a lot about the island’s hidden layers of modesty and shyness,” and the term serves as a catch-all phrase that can be deployed in almost all kinds of situations.

Although the term is made up of four characters that literally translate to “bad meaning” or “bad feeling,” simply saying buhaoyisi “can open a Pandora’s box of profuse politeness,” while the Western notion of “excuse me” is far too limited to express all the social graces and good manners of this popular expression in Taiwan.

Moral teachings of Confucianism and decades of Japanese colonization have played a key role in shaping Taiwan’s buhaoyisi culture, the report said, although some argued that constantly apologizing for small inconveniences can do more harm than good and even affect your self-esteem.

(Eddy Chang, Taipei Times)

英國廣播公司上週在標題為「不停道歉的島嶼」報導中指出,對外來者來說,台灣似乎是全世界最愛道歉的國家,常把「不好意思」(buhaoyisi)掛在嘴邊。「事實上,不好意思文化所顯露的是這個島國各種隱藏層次的謙遜、害羞等情緒,」這個萬用名詞還可用於幾乎所有情境。

雖然「不好意思」這四個字英文直譯為「不好的意思」或「不好的感覺」,但是說出該詞「就像打開潘朵拉的盒子,充斥著多種客氣含意。」而西方「抱歉」(excuse me)的概念則太過局限,無法涵蓋這個台灣流行語在社交禮儀和禮貌行為的各種意涵。

報導說,儒家道德教義和數十年日本殖民統治,對形塑台灣的不好意思文化扮演著關鍵角色。但也有人覺得,一直為了造成些微不便而道歉可能弊多於利,甚至還會影響到你的自我存在。

(台北時報張聖恩)

TODAY’S WORDS
今日單字

1. apologetic adj.

道歉的

(dao4 qian4 de5)

2. catch-all n.

萬用

(wan4 yong4)

3. Pandora’s box phr.

潘朵拉的盒子

(pan1 duo3 la1 de5 he2 zi3)

4. Confucianism n.

儒家思想

(ru2 jia1 si1 xiang3)

5. colonization n.

殖民化

(zhi2 min2 hua4)


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