What? Asking I’m sorry? What happened to Bob today? That doesn’t make sense.
OK, calm down, don’t get too worried. I haven’t blown a gasket or anything. As I’ve said many times on this site, the Philippines and the rest of the English speaking world are separated by a common language, borrowing from a famous quote. The way that the English is used here is not the same as Americans use it. It’s just like how American English is different from British English and so on. OK, perhaps Philippine English is a little more different, but that’s OK.
One phrase that I had to hear a number of times before I came to understand what it really meant was when somebody told me that they want to “ask for I’m sorry.” What?
I don’t recall the exact circumstances where I heard that for the first time. I think, though, that I was at a restaurant. I ordered some food, and somehow my order was not correct. I got the wrong food, or maybe it was not cooked the way that I asked. I was still new here and had not gotten into the culture much yet. Yeah, OK… I was the ugly American, what can I say? Well, I got upset with the waiter and voiced my anger. My food was taken and the proper item was brought to me.
Well, then the waiter got me more upset. He told me:
Sir, I want to ask for I’m sorry.
“What?” I said, “you are asking me to apologize to you?” “Yes, sir,” he told me. “Well, there is no way I am going to apologize to you, you are the one who messed up, you should apologize to me!” “Yes, sir, I am asking for I’m sorry.”
Well, it didn’t sit well for me. The way he said it, I thought that he was asking me to say “I’m sorry” to him. To be frank, I probably did owe him an apology since I got mad at him over something that was probably just a communication problem between us. He probably didn’t properly understand me when I told him what I wanted to order. But, I sure wasn’t going to apologize to him! I was in the right, after all! Or so I thought!
Well, I have heard this phrase a number of times over my years here, and now, thankfully, I understand what it means.
A person “asking for I’m sorry” is not asking for you to apologize. That is how he is offering his apology to you! Yeah, in English it doesn’t make sense, but that is just how they say it here!
Oh my…. talk about being separated by a common language! It’s important to learn how the language is used here if you decide to live here. Sometimes, what you hear and understand can be the exact opposite of what is intended.