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Will your finger touch Steve Jobs’ back-side touch-surface?

I just love this.

Apple has brought out a new iPod patent that encourages people to touch their back-side touch-surface with a finger!!!

Schoolboy humour it may be, but it highlights a wonderful disconnect between American English and British English, as well as identifying just how humourous cross-cultural relations can be.

First it was Microsoft calling the Zune a name the Canadians and others reserve for male private parts. We all laughed at that one. Now Apple are doing the same. Do Americans not realise that 60 million Brits fall about laughing every time they or some other foreigner (American or German speakers particularly make this mistake) quite innocently says “it’s on the back-side” or “you can’t see it on the photograph but on his back-side you can see everything clearly”? I’ll bet you can!

You see when you, dear Foreigner, say “back-side” we Brits immediately think you are referring to our bottom – our “ass” as Americans put it. When you talk about our “ass” we first of all think of a four legged creature found in the Middle East that is a close relative of the horse, an example of which Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

When we are talking to a native German speaker, we may try to remain po-faced (straight-faced) about it, but this again (if we ourselves speak German) causes much mirth (the German for “bum” is “po” you see; no, dear American reader, I am not talking about some homeless tramp, but again, an “ass”).

But back to the iPod story. The idea of the new patent is that you will sensitively run your finger around the back-side touch-surface, which will move a cursor that tells you where your finger is. Excuse me! If I had my finger on my back-side touch-surface I’d know exactly where it was, thank you…!

Leaving apart the humour, I can’t see a dual-faced product being so successful; most people like to wrap such expensive purchases up in leather cases or bind them in some other way so they cannot become easily damaged. With the new system, you’d have to leave your back-side in full view so it could be touched more easily… I’m sure there are some people reading this who might think that was a good idea. I mean, back-side touching used to be a popular pursuit in the workplace until it became sexist. Bit before my time though – but maybe Steve Jobs still remembers?

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2 comments on “Will your finger touch Steve Jobs’ back-side touch-surface?

  1. Maybe Steve Jobs knows that many Brits love to look for the double entendre in everything and has gleefully obliged. It must be so hard to launch a product globally these days without that lurking feeling that the whizzy new name you’ve just invented might just be something rude in another country.

  2. And so many people make the mistake of thinking the whole wide world is the same as their own little one… and that people in different countries – even who speak the same language – will react or think the same way they do. Until you’ve lived outside of your own home country you are much more likely to make a mistake.

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