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Even though the phrase pardon my French is used much more often, I do constantly run across pardon me French as well. What's the deal with that? Wikipedia does have an entry on Pardon my French, but it doesn't mention the variant with me at all. Urban Dictionary has entries on both variants, but sure enough it doesn't bother to explain why they coexist.

It appears to me that pardon me French must be the original expression, and pardon my French a later variation thereof, since there's no reason why anybody should be willingly tampering with the perfectly fine my. Then again, what do I know.

So I'm asking you.

  1. Which one is the original phrase?
  2. Either way, what's up with the me variant? I can't think of any other phrase in contemporary English where me is used to mean my, can you?
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10  
Shiver me timbers! –  mmyers Aug 25 '10 at 21:13
    
Ah me longin heart for me tu ra lura lura loo. –  Incognito Aug 26 '10 at 15:56
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The regions where "pardon my French" is common (south England) are the same where my -> me is also common. It's not really a variant, it's a sound change shortening /maɪ/ to /mi/ –  Mark Dec 19 '10 at 16:12
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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The New Oxford American Dictionary reports that Pardon my French is an informal phrase used to apologize for swearing.

In some regions, me is used to mark ownership; Wiktionary reports the following example:

And give us back me cigarette!

The use of me instead of my seems similar to the colloquial use of me instead of I.

Me and my friends played a game.

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5  
Actually, Pardon my French has nothing to do with French. –  mmyers Aug 25 '10 at 21:19
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To clarify @mmyers, in Pardon my French, ‘French’ means vulgar language or swear words. –  nohat Aug 25 '10 at 21:22
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If I would have looked two lines after the line I checked, I would have noticed that. Thank you both. –  kiamlaluno Aug 25 '10 at 21:25
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I wonder how one should apologize for how he speaks French, then. :-) –  kiamlaluno Aug 25 '10 at 21:45
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In the vulgar circles I frequent 'pardon my French' is often said after breaking wind. –  Brian Hooper Aug 25 '10 at 22:01
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English people—especially Londoners—use me colloquially in place of my.

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It's also quite prominent in Australia, wherever you encounter bogans. As in "give us back me duzza ya bastard!" –  naught101 Oct 16 '12 at 14:21
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