Something that I never realized before moving to France is that I say, I’m sorry, a lot. Now to me this was always just common courtesy. I was always taught to say I’m sorry in situations where I might have slighted someone, forgotten something, or where I might possibly have hurt someone else emotionally or physically. Once I came to France I realized that it’s not the way they do things over here.
My husband would ask me a lot during my first years here why I was saying it so much. To him every time I said, I’m sorry, he thought I was pretty much just flogging myself asking for mercy. To him it was bizarre. To me it was strange for him to react that way. Of course I wasn’t flogging myself just because I dropped the spatula, forgot something was happening during the weekend, or did something by accident. It was just normal. What else would a person say in a situation like this?
Even now after almost five years of marriage it still surprises him. I always thought that it was because I’m American and we are just taught to do this. What has your experience been with saying, I’m sorry? Do you think it’s lost it’s meaning? Do you say instead?
I think for the most part it’s a bad translation. In French “I’m sorry” is “Je suis désolé”. Désolé seems to carry a much harsher meaning than the word sorry in english. If you’ve taken French or lived in a French speaking country for a while I’d love your input.