I had to chuckle today when I came across a short article about the origin of the idiom pardon my French. No. There weren't really any major revelations or even an interesting Paul Harvey-esc Now you know the rest of the story moment. Truth be told...no one seems to really know from where the expression hails.
It's no secret, after all, that most Americans closely associate the French with profanity anyway. And why shouldn't we? The European country seems to have quickly forgotten that German would now be their nation language if not for a few of the homeboys travelling over to help out a couple of generations ago. Thus, the prevailing condescending attitude of their red, white and blue directed at our stars and stripes is enough to make a red-blooded American want to...well...curse.
Calm down mom...I said want to. Put your soap bar back up.
To make matters even worse, Spike TV opened the third season of Deadliest Warriors with a head-to-head battle between General George Washington and Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and declared Washington a narrow victor.
Shut the front door!
That little...weasel... wouldn't stand a chance against our nation's first president. If Napoleon couldn't get the better of a Duke named after a fancy-smancy beef dish, how in the world could he beat a man who turned down being a king?! Turned...it...down!! Washington was a man among men...and great men at that.
If you're a conspiracy theorist, the French are straight in your cross hairs as a major reason for child obesity in this country. What innocent 4-year old doesn't love french fries or french toast? Maybe the master plan is leading our nation into eating its way to third-world status with the French, Chinese, Mexicans and Italians behind it all?
Sweet fancy Moses!
Back to the French and profanity link.
So, exactly why do we use the common apologetic expression after a slip of the tongue? Why not pardon my German or pardon my Swahili? How about a nation-neutral pardon my rudeness or pardon my lack of verbal sophistication?
Personally, I would like to hear pardon my ignorant, unsophisticated use of the beautiful English language and for subjugating you to this verbose and awkward disclaimer. I'm neither an attorney nor an attorney spokesperson. I'm just a neanderthal-like knucklehead who often forgets four-letter words never, ever actually make people take me more serious.
Looking back over that statement, I suddenly have a clearer understanding of why I don't drink champagne, eat Dannon yogurt, read Women's Day magazine, drive on B.F Goodrich tires, use Bic razors, wear Mephisto shoes, watch Jerry Springer (look it up) or cook in T-Fal cookware.
And by the way...I think Dijon mustard taste like...poupon! Pardon the French.