September 18, 2006
I remember my grammar professor talking about an interesting facet of the English language. We have two meanings behind the words "I'm sorry": one is in the sense of "this was my fault" and the other is "I am sympathetic that this happened to you." That is how your friend can tell you his house burned down and you say "I'm sorry" while obviously not being guilty. It is my understanding -- based on my limited experience with foreign languages -- that this distinction is more clear in other languages, usually with two different phrases to express the different meanings. For example, in Swedish you can say "Förlåt mig", which means "forgive me" when it's your fault, but you'd say something more like "Det är trakigt" for sympathy, which loosely can translate as "that sucks". I used to try to say "Jag är ledsen" for "I'm sorry", but my friend said I was always using it wrong because it never carried quite the meaning I was striving for when I tried to use it for sympathy. (Maybe Amritas can shed more light on the topic, especially if I'm misinformed.)
Anyway, as my professor explained to us, this is how we can apologize without apologizing. The Pope can say he's sorry (that Muslims are reacting in such a violent way) without saying he's sorry (that he quoted Manuel II Paleologos in a long speech about rationality in religion).
There are two "I'm sorry"s in English, and apparently the Muslims know the difference. Because they're still ticked, which is why they say things like
We shall break the cross and spill the wine ... God will (help) Muslims to conquer Rome ... (May) God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the mujahideen.
Goddamit, maybe it's time they apologize to us. To the Pope. And for the nun they shot in the back. And the churches they burned down.
I am so f-ing sick of the Muslim world.
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