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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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  • 12
    Shiver me timbers!
    – mmyers
    Aug 25, 2010 at 21:13
  • Ah me longin heart for me tu ra lura lura loo.
    – Incognito
    Aug 26, 2010 at 15:56
  • 6
    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, 2010 at 16:12
  • This is just another way of asking this question: english.stackexchange.com/questions/247865/…
    – lly
    Apr 15, 2020 at 7:37

2 Answers 2

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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, 2010 at 21:19
  • 4
    To clarify @mmyers, in Pardon my French, ‘French’ means vulgar language or swear words.
    – nohat
    Aug 25, 2010 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.
    – apaderno
    Aug 25, 2010 at 21:25
  • 5
    I wonder how one should apologize for how he speaks French, then. :-)
    – apaderno
    Aug 25, 2010 at 21:45
  • 3
    In the vulgar circles I frequent 'pardon my French' is often said after breaking wind. Aug 25, 2010 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, 2012 at 14:21

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