Cute is the new c word

I’ve recently discovered that calling someone “sha3bi1” is considered cute here in Taiwan. What?! I’ve always thought it was very much otherwise, to say the least. Is it a different character here or something (I’m illiterate)? I mean, how are you supposed to refer to someone who just misses you with their vehicle while you’re in the crosswalk?

it’s like the word dummie can sometimes be used to be endearing

What was the old c word?

I can see “dummie,” but you’d think some things just can’t be made cute. I’m quite flabbergasted.