Excuse me

A question for experts on Taiwan culture - Is this article right? Because I’ve not noticed it. I am lacking in awareness, though.

Haven’t read the article, but I have run into soooo many Taiwanese who say “sorry” for everything, with and without any real reason.

Funny thing is that when there’s a more serious conflict or someone fucks up, I never see anybody taking responsibility or apologizing. Seriously.


I always thought bu hao yi si was for a minor issue. If the issue was more serious you move up to dui bu chi and if you seriously screw up it’s time to pull out the pai se. It seems I’ve been getting it wrong. I’ve never heard anyone say bu hao yi si upon receiving a gift.

That I don’t know. I was talking more about coworkers blaming other people instead of taking responsibility and people saying sorry to you on the street or in a shop or anywhere else randomly.

You are not alone.

Certainly there are some that square up and take responsibility here. But sadly I see heaps of cases of people doing bad sh*t with zero sense of accountability or remorse.


I think that apologies are just the way to put an end to a legal dispute in which you are obviously on the wrong side and at risk of facing sever punishment.

When doing business shit here, my wife and her family constantly remind me to “NEVER APOLOGIZE” to any Taiwanese. “IT MAKES YOU LOOK WEAK” being from Canada I find this incredibly difficult.

I used to apologize when orders would arrive late ect and people would somewhat take advantage of the situation. Now I just pretend to get angry and blame someone else and yell a lot the situation just resolves itself. :thinking:

I do find Taiwanese like to apologize for the non-important issues, just not the things I’d actually want an apology for.

Also NEVER apologize if your in some type of accident. YIKES!

I don’t think Taiwanese people are really that much more polite or rude than people elsewhere…the land of near-constant and mostly meaningless apologies is up north in that country that looks vaguely like a dragon.

You’ve not noticed ‘pai sai’ culture in Taiwan ?

Yep I can’t remember anyone apologising for any real fuckup, ever here. I might be biased but I can’t recall any situation .

1 Like

I guess that it’s a survival strategy used at work by many people around the World, but seriously, here it’s like too much. Not only at work but also on the road. They can hit you when invading your own lane and still say that it’s your fault because you were going too fast :roll_eyes:

I have noticed people apologizing while brushing past me, as I have in any other country I’ve visited, but this?

Ride the subway in Taipei and you’ll hear a cacophonous chorus of ‘buhaoyisi’ as passengers gingerly nudge past others in humble deference. Enter a classroom, and you’ll see students start and end each question with ‘buhaoyisi’, dripping with a sense of indebtedness and gratefulness even as the discussion continues. Open an email, and the first line will usually be ‘Buhaoyisi’ – implying ‘sorry to slightly bother you’ – even for the smallest of favours. And if a dear cousin gives you a gift, the correct response isn’t ‘thank you’, but rather, ‘buhaoyisi’ for the inconvenience I’ve caused you.


Maybe I just happen to be surrounded by much more straightforward people in general.

1 Like

Yes, but not for many of the situations given in the article.

I will note that sometimes Taiwanese people don’t say anything at all to foreigners if they can help it. Or they say “sorry” or “excuse me” in English, if they are confident in their ability to do so. So if you appear foreign at first glance you might experience an even more reduced incidence of the pai sei culture from locals.

But I still don’t think it’s nearly as extreme as the article seems to claim.

yea i would have to agree with others. buhaoyisi is used a lot but when sometimes needs actual responsibility passing the buck is the order of the day.

although a few days ago i was pleasantly surprised. i went to a pizza restaurant and got da bao for what was left. all fine so far, until we saw a cockroach in the bag(a small one but still, the food was safely in a plastic container too) they apologized actually cooked us a whole new pizza which was pretty great (there was only two slices left)

contrasting to another place i went which served me a pizza ontop of a dead roach, didn’t say sorry and only offered a free dessert.

They also often say “sorry” to each other in English, which I found a bit weird at first.

I’m working in Taipei later, so I’ll listen in on fellow commuters. Maybe they are all saying bu hao yi si all the time and I’ve just been missing it.

I got slapped by a woman once at the movie theatres decades ago as a snotty teenager.

She said excuse me.

I said, ¨Why, did you fart?¨

1 Like

Notice that “baoqian” doesn’t even make the list.

Isn’t that the same level of apology as dui bu chi? I honestly don’t know.