Long story short, I’ve been calling patient’s rear-ends their bum’s at work (“you need to move your bum back in your chair more so you don’t fall out, Mrs so-and-so”) and a Nurse brought up today that I might be offending some of the more delicate elderly ladies by calling a bum a bum.
I can’t really see anything offensive about it: in my book “bum” ranks down there with “bottom” or “posterior” as being completely inoffensive.
Well, for myself I find it rather childish and… oh I dunno… vulgar? Mind you, I am a prig, so don’t mind me. It’s not a word I use often, though I do with my kids sometimes. I think, for what it’s worth, that it could offend some people. But hardly ever fatally.
I heard that when Harry Truman was president, a reporter once asked his wife Bess if she could please get the president to stop using the word “manure” so much. Her reply was something like “You wouldn’t believe how long it took me to get him to call it manure!”
I don’t know. Unless you have allready established an informal rapport with the patient, then saying bum seems unprofessional. But with a good rapport then anything that the patient finds amusing is good, and plenty of old ladies have very raucous senses of humour.
In America, bum, rather than be considered even in the slightest bit offensive, fits squarely into that Cute Cuddly Whimsical Words Used By Those Dear Old Adorable Brits category. Similar fates seem to have been assigned to shagged, wanker, et al.
(Side note: I can’t be the only person to see the thread title and instantly assume it to be about hobos… I mean, indigents.)