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I know that according to dictionaries and the answers here the meaning of this phrase ranges from the sincere Pardon me, or I am sorry for what I just did to the more sarcastic or sometimes even aggressive I beg your pardon?.

Yet I cannot find the words to describe the phrase’s meaning (nuances) in Lynn Anderson’s song, “Rose Garden”.

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In order to understand I beg your pardon, especially but not exclusively in the context of the song, it can help to look at it literally:

I beg your pardon
I ask (for) your forgiveness

Beg is stronger than ask, but pardon is usually a lot less so than forgiveness (unless it's the kind of pardon that gets you out of jail or reprieved from a death penalty...).

It fits in the sense of I am sorry for what I just did, because you ask for forgiveness for your recent action.

In the song, it fits, because in the song, it is also a veiled apology:

I ask you to forgive me for giving you the wrong impression, but I never actually made any promise to you about a garden of roses.

Obviously, the rose garden is a common symbol for an easy and beautiful life (or relationship).

In a more matter-of-fact way, the lyrics could be rephrased as:

Sorry, but I never said things would be easy.

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  • +1 for giving the wrong impression. Good description. May 28 '14 at 11:22
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Well I am not very good with the grammatical terms, so I cannot give you a technical explanation, defining what is what. But I think I can help you understand how the idiom " I beg your pardon " is used here (to be fair, I am not very sure of the concept of idiom). Since you mentioned that you need the context of " I beg your Pardon" specific to the song " Rose Garden", it will help you a lot to, well, put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist/singer of the song.

Assume the singer is having a conversation (which is the lyrics of the song) with, maybe a lover. Lets assume he promised her a good life, and she assumed it is going to be a bed of roses (life is not a bed of roses). He then tells her " I beg your pardon, never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, There's gotta be a little rain sometimes." something like, I am sorry (I beg your pardon), I promised you a happy life but it does not mean there will never be another sad moment in your life (never promised you a rose garden.There's gotta be a little rain sometimes.Along with the sunshine, There's gotta be a little rain sometimes.).

Imagine a conversation between our imaginary singer and the imaginary woman when something sad happened:

Woman : You promised me that you will keep me happy always

Singer : I am sorry (I beg your pardon), I promised you a happy life, true. But that does not mean that there will never be another sad moment in your life. If there is happiness there has to be a little sadness as well, you cant avoid it.

or something like that. I hope other people who answer will be able to give you the exact grammatical terms and explanation.

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  • Your song interpretation is good, except that the singer is the woman ;)
    – oerkelens
    May 28 '14 at 11:05
  • Lol, sorry. I did not realize it was sung by a woman, my bad. I just checked the lyrics directly, did not listen to the song.
    – NANDAGOPAL
    May 28 '14 at 11:10

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