Do you use "I'm sorry" as an expression of sympathy? Or only as an apology?
I was involved in a discussion today about whether or not you should apologize when you didn't do anything wrong. My position was that I often say "I'm sorry!" to be sympathetic. For example, a friend was telling me about a problem she was having with her child. I said, "I'm sorry..." She said, "Oh, it's not your fault!" Of course, it wasn't my fault! I didn't have a thing to do with it. I said, "I know. I'm just sorry you're having to go through that." In the discussion today I was informed that using it that way was a "Southern Thing"! LOL! All these things I've just grown up doing, never noticing that not everyone else does it... Who knew?
I also didn't know until recently that calling my mother "Mother" was a "Southern Thing"! I'm sure there are others... but I'm not thinking of them right this minute.