I have a lovely friend who seems to start every spoken sentence with these words (and, increasingly, every written one too) and I’m not entirely sure what they’re sorry about or for.
Are they sorry for having an opinion or expressing it? Perhaps they’re sorry that someone else doesn’t have the same opinion as them? Is it a habit? Why do they do it? So many questions*…
If they’re sorry for having an opinion, they need to stop that right now. Everyone has a perception of reality, based on so many things that it’s impossible to say precisely how we got to where we are. Apologising for having an opinion is like apologising for having a papercut – it’s just one of those things!
If they’re genuinely sorry for the imminent expression of their opinion, then they’ve just bought themselves time to stop expressing it at all. Equally, if this is the case, then their apology is tinged with the sadness that they appear to feel that their opinion is somehow less valid than the opinions of others.
And as for apologising on someone else’s behalf; is there a more British thing to do?! It’s like the person who apologised to the driver who’d just crashed into their house…
Sorry is an expression of self-guilt or sympathy and expressing opinions really shouldn’t elicit either of those feelings. Say what you mean, mean what you say and go forth, without unnecessary apologies!
sorry adj (sorrier, sorriest) 1 distressed or full of regret or shame, especially over something that one has done or said, something one feels responsible for, something that has happened, etc 2 (usually sorry for someone) full of pity or sympathy Chambers 21st Century Dictionary
* No, I’m not likely to ask them; I’d only get an apology I don’t understand!