.

.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Guide To Non - U, part V.


(For reference on this series, see here)


Pardon?
Pardon is a common word clothed in top hat and evening dress at a dress down party. 'Tis as socially unacceptable as buying one's own furniture. When wishing to prompt a rapscallion to repeat a sentence one has missed, there are only two satisfactory options.
What! (The exclamation mark is crucial to us Brits as a way of showing our disdain without "getting into it")
Or,
Sorry? (We may be saying it but don't think for a second there is an apology involved, you should be feeling it.)

*brought to you by tongue in cheek productions.

59 comments:

  1. Oh dear...I say pardon all the time...unless it's to my husband, then it's just a "what". Ha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. K: I am sure there are lots of 'rules' in the US that I don't know about, I've said a lot of things before just don't translate over there.

      Delete
  2. Tabitha, this is an interesting series. I am a lurker....sorry! Been following you for many months now but a first time commenter. I love the idea of these "Non-U" posts and your execution of them. Keep writing, please, for those of us who enjoy your fashion sense and your wit alike. I am so happy you came back into the blogosphere. There's just no one else like you out there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Personally I would say 'I beg your pardon', but I was never a Mitford fan.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I would like to commission tongue in cheek productions a proper television series please!
    vlogs perhaps? or am i pushing it?

    i bet you are shouting "What?!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now there's a great idea Naomi. Vicky and Winny could have regular outings.

      Delete
    2. Oh they'd be great at it, not sure I could raise them from the dead again.

      Delete
    3. I think it would be fab for them two to be hosting!! Come on - do a Lazarus.

      Delete
  5. Haha! 'What' or 'eh?' rule in our house!
    Love your u and non u series!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's also 'whit?" , up here.

      Delete
    2. Love 'whit' I might start using it!

      Delete
  6. Oh Dear, as deafness is creeping up on me, and accusing others of mumbling isn't working any more, I do rather a lot of 'Sorry', and a few 'Pardons', every day. An emphatic 'What' might not go over so well in Australia. So what to do - a hand cupped behind the ear, perhaps?

    ReplyDelete
  7. As a good canuck, we join Ruth in the eh? Although truly I usually say what here, and it is considered quite rude to do so! interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Excuse me? Never "sorry". Sometimes "pardon me?" To my family "huh?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, your excuse me is our sorry.

      Delete
    2. "Excuse me," is the basic. "What?!?!" is what your grandmother says when she refuses to admit she hasn't turned on her hearing aid.

      Delete
    3. LPC - that is hilarious!

      Delete
  9. What about "pardon me"?

    So glad you're back, and you're on fire.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh dear…and I've been correcting small grandson when he says, "What?," and telling him to say pardon. 'What', is, I think, considered rude here in the land down under. Or is that just me?
    Can I introduce another? When asked by shop assistants or others, "How are you?" It is considered similarly common to reply, "good" It must instead be, I am well thank you. Keep it up Tabitha! Tonkath

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree, most people in Oz would think you terribly rude to respond "What?"

      "What did you say?" would be OK though. Or "Que?" (a la Manuel) in some quarters. At work or at receptions when there's a lot of background noise, we used to respond "Say again!" and often do the hand cupping the ear thing. I remember our then Minister used to do that a lot, because like many politicians he was a bit deaf.
      They say the definition of a bore is someone who actually tells you when asked "How are you?" My response when asked by anyone other than family or very close friend is to say "I'm fine, how are you?" Leg has to be falling off to say anything different.
      Do you adhere to all the other Mitford u talk with "lavatory" and "writing paper" etc? Look forward to more juicy snippets! Cheers, Pamela

      Delete
    2. This is just pointing out the way that the upper classes speak and the semaphore of words, I hope Judith pops along because she will have something to say about pardon and I beg your pardon!

      Delete
    3. This is fascinating. Where do we sit with 'telly' for television? - Tonkath

      Delete
    4. Tonkath - oh you'd be taken out and horsewhipped for that.

      Delete
    5. Agree Tabitha, it is, but not many in Oz would've read "Noblesse Oblige" or Nancy's later response to the furore created (and, quite entertainingly, the slavish efforts to comply), that it was tongue in cheek, like your post. So in Oz "What?!" in public to persons one doesn't know terribly well is pretty much unacceptable. Wouldn't recommend it.
      Few efforts to comply with the "rules" here of course because except for Mitford tragics who've read just about everything Nancy produced, as well as other products of the Mitford book industry, almost no-one knows about U and non-U speak. Not that people who've read them here would be bothered anyway, just amused. (Simply adore Uncle Mathew and his speak in "Don't Tell Alfred".)
      We tend to pride ourselves on being classless, though it's not really true. So "say again" can be quite useful and businesslike because it doesn't put the speaker in a servile position. If desired, it can be slightly softened with body language: cocking the head to one side as you say it. Have used it many times at official cocktail parties, and not just in Oz. Best wishes, Pamela

      Delete
    6. Australian shop assistants usually ask "you right ?"

      Delete
    7. Generally shop in boutiques and department stores where I live, places where I'm already known to the staff. They always greet me and ask how I am. Sometimes I take them little bunches of sweet peas or other flowers from my garden or a tiny present at Christmas, for the really kind helpful ones. Even when I shop or just browse in Sydney (eg Westfield Centre in Pitt Street) mostly find staff are helpful and friendly. I think it partly depends on one's own attitude to staff. In France, even in a little boulangerie or patisserie, a French customer will ALWAYS begin by wishing staff "Bonjour madame" or "Bonjour monsieur" before requesting what they want. Have learned a lot from this.
      I still remember how difficult it can be to work as a shop assistant, on your feet all day and having to deal with sometimes rude and demanding customers. Remember my first ever job at the end of school before starting university, when I came home the first day I had to put my feet up for ages they ached so much. Cheers, Pamela

      Delete
  11. When I say, "Sorry?" to my husband, it's often with a look of sass, a hefty dose of sarcasm, and a pause to let him recover and think of a way to change what he just said.

    ReplyDelete
  12. We say "sorry?" around here. It seems very Canadian to be constantly apologizing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Louise, I know, "sorry" is over-used in this nation. There's a great song about Canadian foibles including the non-stop apology. Was part of some musical/ Air Farce type review. Must see if I can find it on YouTube.

      Delete
    2. Oh do you use that too? I had no idea.

      Delete
    3. The Canadian sorry is very all purpose and is usually apologetic.

      I never noticed it went I lived there, but having been gone for some time I realize that I am constantly hearing and saying it when there!

      Delete
  13. I adore the U vs Non-U! You always have the best pictures. More please!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Funny, growing up we said sorry?, maybe excuse me? in small town Kentucky. There was a definite geographical line where it crossed over to pardon me? What? was/is considered rude and has no boundaries : ) As an adult it's rather fluid, depending on where I am. Husband says pardon me? his French heritage and he would harangue me when we were younger for always "apologizing". I think he understands now that I am not apologizing at all. Somewhere we lived the response was often "come again?" which brought out the naughty teenage boy in me every time.

    Tabitha, thanks for keeping it up, I delight in your blog posts. Leigh Ann

    ReplyDelete
  15. "Pardon" but never preceded by "beg your" is how I've always done it however the Army insisted we use "say again" for radio traffic which unfortunately I still use from time to time.

    ReplyDelete
  16. GSL - never beg! I quite like 'say again', it might become the new universal neutral.

    Thanks Leigh Ann, and Ann - will try!

    ReplyDelete
  17. We Canadians say sorry ALL the time!
    I often say excuse me when I have not heard what someone has said and I say excuse me when walking in front of people if there is no room to walk around them....
    I take great pleasure in buying my own furniture! Excuse me please I am as common as they come.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Unless it's I beg your pardon .. anything with pardon is non U I was told a million years ago and it's stuck .as with many other words that were deemed dare i say it ? Common

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I beg your pardon is a terrible no no too, too servile!

      Delete
    2. mmm ...it can be used to great effect in a sarcastic way .........

      Delete
  19. What. Barked.
    Sorry. As a statement.

    I was thinking of that Mosley woman recently. Unapologetic. Loyal. Remarkable that we have breathed the same air as her in a world changed utterly.

    ReplyDelete
  20. As a Canadian, everything is a sorry here. But it is apologetic. Sorry that my ears failed... We are a strange people.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I love your U/non-U series. how I shriek!
    The tone. It all depends on the tone. One word can have several different meanings differentiated only by inflection.
    "what?" (didnt hear you/too rude to pay attention) is rude.
    "What!" (Exclamation at something said) is perfectly fine.

    We always use "Excuse me?" Or a furrowed brow. Sometimes a raised eyebrow.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am soooo socially unacceptable and I don't want to be anything else.

    ReplyDelete
  23. So I had t read the complete series first... My husband has a pinky-reddish chino, is that too bad? We considered it more as an influence from the Dutch! I don't think I use often pardon in French, but certainly more in English. I will put that on my 2014 resolution: no more Pardon.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Pardon, settee, lounge, toilet be wary anything derived from French. It used to be the language of the court, but did it become non U when they were all speaking German, and is that where that sloane-y screech of 'Yah!' came from?

    ReplyDelete
  25. I just can't stand 'pardon'. I don't know why, but it is cring worthy :-)

    Red

    ReplyDelete
  26. Funnily enough I never heard anyone say pardon the 15 years I was in London. Loads of my old rellies in NZ say it though."Excuse" me here in the US is like chalkboard scratching, have never gotten used to it.

    ReplyDelete
  27. As Jilly Cooper said, I'd rather my children say "f**k" than "pardon"!

    ReplyDelete
  28. "Excuse me?" is acceptable here in the US, but nothing surpasses "what?"

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hell's Bells! ...being slightly hard of hearing I say 'Pardon" quite a bit, even worse " Beg your Pardon".
    Anyway, the Mitfords were a bunch of nuts...weren't they?
    Linda C.

    ReplyDelete
  30. What's wrong with pardon? I say it :)
    Lauren
    livinginaboxx

    ReplyDelete
  31. That is one word that makes me cringe,what about toilet verus lavatory...tee heee what a minefield we Brits love!!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Agreed. Apart from 'I BEG your pardon?!', Lady Bracknell-style. Used by a few Grande Dames I know to their grandchildren with great effect.

    ReplyDelete
  33. It is in the same category as "toilet" as far as I am concerned.

    ReplyDelete

Marquess of Queensbury rules apply and please
remember your manners.