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Why Do We Say Pardon My French When We Use Bad Words


If you are not familiar with the phrase ‘Pardon my French’,  you would assume that it originated from the French people. That is however far from the truth. Interestingly enough, the phrase was coined and often used by the English people. This can be used to explain how languages are interrelated and can be used to connect people of different nationalities and backgrounds.

Language plays a huge role in ensuring communication is passed down effectively. Poor communication skills and the use of the wrong language can cause a lot of problems.  That being said, it is important to know exactly what everything we say means. So if you are curious why we say ‘pardon my french’, today is your lucky day!

1. To Add Flowers To An Otherwise Offensive Statement

We have all used curse words at one point or the other. Sometimes we can water it down by blending it with courtesy words. The use of vulgar words is mostly perceived as being rude although it is a trend that many have embraced. For instance, some people curse for no reason at all. To the extreme ends, it becomes a way of life.

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Whether we use the curse words intentionally or as a result of external pressure that acts as a trigger, we never want people to brand us as rude. There are quite a number of expressions that can be used together with curse words to make a light moment out of it. The most commonly used is ‘Pardon my French’.

2. Historical Background

According to English speakers, dropping a French word in their conversations was a way for them to display culture, refinement or social class. The fact that this phrase was linked to rude words might have been considered as a mockery to the French speakers.

It was however not a major concern since many believe that it does not qualify to be racist. It is quite obvious that in the 21st century, no one intentionally uses it to offend the French.

Ever been curious to know how this phrase came to be?

Pardon my French was used literally back in the day and is an expression that can be traced to the 19th century. The phrase simply means ‘please forgive me for swearing’. In those days, English speaking people would apologize for using French words during conversations. The reason behind this is because they assumed that their listeners would not understand their language.

It is not just a phrase of the past but remains to be one of the most commonly used expressions up to date. Like many other popular phrases, this trend ended up being a cliché.

There are a number of ways you can use the phrase. Listed are two of the common ways.

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In Conversations

We use curse words in our day to day conversations and it is important to have some courtesy words at the back of our mind.

Here are some examples of how to use it in a sentence.

  • Pardon my French but you are such a pig.
  • Oops! pardon my French everyone but this food tasted like sh*t.

On TV Or Movies

You would think that Pardon my French is a statement that you can use only in conversations but that is not the case. The phrase has severally been used on Television broadcast and film as a way of avoiding to violate censorship guidelines. Although broadcast standards differ in several parts of the world, it is not disputable that there are strict rules when it comes to the use of vulgar words.

Other Expressions That Can Be Used Instead Of Pardon My French

There are simpler terms to ask to be pardoned instead of using this phrase. Although they can be viewed as slightly different, they are able to bring out the same effect and therefore are effective.

You can use excuse the expression, apologies for swearing, forgive my language or I beg your pardon.

Language is evolving and some of these phrases will soon be outdated. The millennials are so quick when it comes to creating new terminologies and trashing others in the process. This is thanks to the technological era we live in where the world has been minimized into a global village.

With communication being universal, it is equally important to use terms that many people are familiar with. The use of curse words among the younger generation is rampant. With this being the case, it will never hurt if you ask those around you to ‘Pardon your French’.

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