Monday, 5 October 2020

sorry seems to be the hardest word

From part of a fascinating conversation at Language Log, we learn that the French equivalent phrase for I stand corrected is Autant pour moi—that is, So much for me—the expression being a corruption itself of the military order “au temps,” directing one to repeat a manoeuvre from the beginning due to an error committed somewhere in the process. Or not, possibly the above is a back-formation or a folk etymology—we love how people are passionate about language. Je suis dรฉsolรฉe. As much as I liked the idea of retreating that the French conveys, I rather thought the English idiom was sort of a strange formulation since what first comes to my mind was “to take a stand” and be committed to one’s convictions though they might be shown as false, but here we encounter stand as an auxiliary verb, as in to understand or to be in good standing. Well off I go.