Some friends call me picky, pedantic, a perfectionist. They’re just being nice … I call myself anal, and sometimes it’s a real pain in my backside. Yes, backside – a word that Mitt Romney, the nominee for the Republican Party for the President of the United States used recently in London.
This is not a politically motivated post, no worries. I won’t bash Mr. Romney even though he criticized the biggest sporting event Britain has held in over forty years and said: “… looking out of the backside of 10 Downing Street.”
This post is about the English language – more specifically, the difference between British English and American English.
As a Canadian, I have the best of both worlds. I’ve grown up with both. I know the difference in their spellings, and I’ve familiarized myself with the nuances of British idioms and words, but let’s face it folks, although the word “backside” can mean “the rear view of something” as in this:
The word backside is more aptly visualized as a different rear view.
Regardless, I did some research on the word as I know many Brits were offended by Mr. Romney’s gaffe. The word backside does appear to be a North American term. It refers to the rear side of something, but for both the British and Americans, it’s also a word used informally to refer to a person’s buttocks.
I almost feel sorry for Mr. Romney. His every move is being scrutinized, and his poor choice of words didn’t help win him any points on his first foreign tour as a presidential candidate. I’ve written about words and their impact to communication in a previous post.
Our misuse of words will not make any headlines, but for someone running for the highest office in the land, Mr. Romney may just need to watch his backside a bit more closely.