My sister, Erin, was once handed a small yellow card by a deaf person. It read, "Beg pardon," and then went on to explain that the person was deaf and needed some cash or something like that. Stamped on the card in red was the outline of a hand doing the sign for "I Love You" in sign language. We had a laugh over this--not because we make fun of deaf people but because starting off with "Beg pardon," an abbreviated form of "I beg your pardon," seemed funny. It also seemed like the kind of thing non-native English speakers would say which does lend credence to the argument put forth by the signing community at large that ASL is a real language. At any rate, I am very fond of the phrase because it is old- fashioned and hyper-polite. It can be used in a variety of ways from the straight forward, "I beg your pardon?" to the sarcastic, "I beg your pardon."
I am concerned, however, that the phrase "I beg your pardon" is slowly but surely being replaced by the much clumsier, much less sophisticated "My bad." I understand "My bad" and even use it on occasion. Of course when I do it is not without irony because I am over 30 and an English teacher, nevertheless. I get the youthful, careless, sports connotations. But people are employing "My bad" in an ever broader spectrum of situations and that is causing it to lose some of its flavor. They say it when they mean, "I'm sorry," "Forgive me," "It's my fault," "I caused that to happen," and so on and so forth. It has become a sort of short hand for all manner of apologies. I don't like it.
And while the request of forgiveness or admission of guilt has been diminished to "My bad," the acceptance of the apology or granting of forgiveness is now changing to the all-encompassing "It's all good." "It's all good?" I heard this last night in the parking lot of Smiths when a girl was stuck waiting while her friend hadn't yet unlocked the car door yet. "It's all good." I suppose I don't really care how people talk; it's just that I like to reserve the use of "It's all good" for times when a laid back, pimptastic and/or Cheech and Chong tone is called for. Such as, "It's all good my babies." With the careless tossing to and fro of "it's all good" instead of a simple "ok" or "don't sweat it" or even the more sincere "I forgive you" it won't be long before "it's all good" becomes as meaningless, and, quite frankly, ridiculous, as "my bad." Oh well. I beg your pardon. Forgive me this indulgence. I know it's really random.