One of the oddities of Taiwanese jurisprudence is that many judges are almost totally ignorant of the world, rendering judgments problematical. To be a judge in Taiwan requires years of study in being a judge — I had a friend who did nothing but study to be a judge until he was 40, never having so much as a job at 7-11. Prince Roy uncovers a comical example of this ignorance:

An American woman, who the paper names as “Bào” 鮑, is an English teacher in Hualian. In 2005 she became involved in a bitter lawsuit with a Taiwanese woman surnamed Zhou. Subsequently, on June 14th of that same year, she encountered Ms. Zhou at the entrance to Ciji Hospital, and allegedly cursed Ms. Zhou with the English phrase “Fuck you!” Ms. Zhou lodged a complaint against “Ms. Bao”, and a judge fined “Ms. Bao” $6000 NTD for brazen humiliation and sullying the reputation of Ms. Zhou.

On appeal, “Ms. Bao” argued that at the time she ran into Ms. Zhou at the hospital entrance, Ms. Zhou noticed her broken arm and said: “This is good to see”. “Ms. Bao”, wanting to brush off Ms. Zhou, replied: “Forget you”. Perhaps because the pronunciation is close, Ms. Zhou misheard it as “Fuck you”.

Hualian district appellate judges Zheng Peili, Yu Xiumei, and Zheng Guangting didn’t buy it. The court’s written opinion emphasized that the correct English grammar in this case should be “Forget it”. “Ms. Bao”, a native speaker of English, should know that “Forget you” is ungrammatical. In addition, the difference in pronunciation of “fuck” and “forget” is so distinct that Ms. Zhou could not possibly have misheard. Appeal denied.

The incident, and the post, are classic. As one commenter there pointed out, finding a native speaker to ask — or checking Google — surely could have presented no problem. Swearing is considered quite serious in local culture and successful examples of lawsuits against it abound. So watch the mouth.

LINK: There’s a long discussion of this at Forumosa.