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Two simple questions. Options
Barely literate
Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2014 11:56:51 AM

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a)
I want to say I didn't see somebody's face because he was standing facing the other way. So I could not recognize his face and see only backside of his head.

What is the natural way of expressing the boldly written part?

b)
Suppose a few students are standing in front of me in ranks and files but facing different directions. Being the commander, I want to say that everyone should stand facing the direction where I stand.

What is the natural command for this?
tunaafi
Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2014 12:04:17 PM

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a) The words you used are OK.
b) "Face this way" or "Face me".
mythman
Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2014 5:25:17 PM

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Nothing wrong with "facing the other way":

"Facing away" would also work, as would "(he was) turned the other way", or "(he was) turned away".
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2014 6:27:48 PM

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A typical way to say someone is not facing you is, "He had his back to/towards me", or "She had her back to/towards me", "They had their backs to/towards me". (You can use towards or toward. Both are commonly used)
Kerry.P
Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2014 11:31:32 PM
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But you must never say "the backside of his head". Silenced
dusty
Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2014 11:47:53 PM

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not sure if there is a "natural" command, the military uses the word "Attention"
Barely literate
Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014 12:03:53 PM

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tunaafi wrote:
a) The words you used are OK.
b) "Face this way" or "Face me".



I thought of "face me". But, this command will cause those they stand in the outermost files to stand slightly diagonal to me-if the group is big.
Barely literate
Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014 12:05:50 PM

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KerryP wrote:
But you must never say "the backside of his head". Silenced

---
A perfect eyeopener for me to initiate a self assessment on my blunder.
Romany
Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014 7:25:00 PM
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I know it's common in many parts of India and Indonesia, for example, to use the "the backside" to mean "the back of." However, native-English "backside" ONLY refers to one's bottom.
mythman
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 1:44:20 AM

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'you must never say "the backside of his head"'
'native-English "backside" ONLY refers to one's bottom'

What utter nonsense.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 2:33:22 AM

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mythman wrote:
'you must never say "the backside of his head"'
'native-English "backside" ONLY refers to one's bottom'

What utter nonsense.

Well, maybe in Canada.
However, look at the American Heritage Dictionary - the only definition is "buttocks, rump".

If you said "backside" as one word (without a noticeable pause) anywhere in Britain, you would hear sniggers (or at least suppressed sniggers).
mythman
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 3:32:38 AM

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Drag0nspeaker

I will allow that dialectic differences make for a broad range of acceptable usage, however I object in principal to such absolute and sweeping statements.

The primary definition for "backside" in the Collins English Dictionary is: "the back of something", and in the Random House Dictionary: "the rear or back part or view of an object, person, scene, etc". Both are quoted by this site, and both sources only list the anatomical reference as a secondary definition.
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 5:11:23 AM
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Mythman,

According to the Oxford too, the principal meaning is buttocks. I rather take exception to having a post dismissed as "utter nonsense". Let us agree rather that this is perhaps another AE/BE difference.

As Dragon said, using the word backside in other contexts in British English areas would bring sniggers all round. That's why Kerry from Australia also cautioned against using the word.
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