From the chair at the end of the table…
Why do people say pardon my French when using profanity?

Why do people say pardon my French when using profanity?

Eh oh, parlez-vous French?
Blah blah blah… Pardon or excuse my French… then BAM! There goes the profanity, swear word, insult or whatever you want to call it. Anything but actual French as far as I am concerned.

I was reading an article a while back and noticed those three words used as an introduction to the use of foul language… I heard it before in movies or shows, however for some reason it stroke me funny that day. So I decided to explore it.

I was curious to know where this habit came from so I looked it up. Apparently, the expression dates from the 19th century stemming from an old rivalry between the British and the French.
At the start, they used it when saying something others would not understand… and now see what became of it – a warning for inappropriate language.

Why not say pardon my Shanikwah?

French is my first language, so allow me to take offense particularly when I am not a big fan of profanity. Aside from this point, I don’t speak German and yet some of the few words I first learned as a teenager were swear words besides the usual greetings.
I am sure I am not the only one who has been introduced to a new language that way.

So why do people say pardon my French when using profanity?

I don’t have a straight and definite answer to that question, nor does the internet.
Just a wacky thought I had.
I would say though that people started using it for a reason and continued doing so for other reasons throughout time… you don’t undo habits that easily.

Reminds me of a funny story I heard long time ago – allow me to share it.

Someone was cooking a ham in a large pan and was always cutting it in half. One day, someone asked why he was doing it that way. He didn’t really know and answered that it was how his mother and grandmother have always done it.
Intrigued by that question he went back to his grandmother to find out the truth…
Her answer was that way back when, she did not have a pan big enough to cook the whole ham at once so she had to cut it in half! HAHA! True story.

Anyway, let it be known once and for all… Pardon my French + profanity does not equal real French.

What about you… Do you have any unexplained habit or something you’ve always done a certain way just because? Please share.

Au revoir for now.



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