Monday, January 26, 2009

Cop Talk

Why can't cops talk like normal people? My least favorite part of every case is trying to decipher the cop talk. In cop talk, no one ever just does something. Cops say:

"He did go to her apartment." Because "He went to her apartment" doesn't sound official enough?

"She did admit to being at the scene." Because "she admitted she was there" doesn't properly emphasize the significance of the admission?

There are no cars or automobiles in cop talk, only vehicles.

And cops don't do anything without proceeding. "I proceeded to take his statement." "I proceeded to run the vehicle tag." "I did proceed to inform her of her Miranda rights."

When cops testify, they speak in this odd, stilted language that sounds like the foreign exchange student who knows formal construction, but doesn't know idioms and the standard usages of native-speakers. I think this odd, stilted cop talk is a major reason why I tend to distrust the testimony of cops. Maybe if they talked like normal people, I'd be more inclined to believe their testimony. But cop talk just sounds so studied and practiced, it makes it hard to take the testimony at face value. It makes me wonder what they're working so hard to avoid saying.


Language Lover said...

Um, you lawyers kinda tend to talk weird too, you know...

I still remember having to learn translations in my court interpreting class of all your favorite phrases like "to wit", "pursuant to", "I attest", etc.

S said...

There is still some archaic language used in some legal writing (though I would never write "to wit"), but the profession has done a lot to get rid of some of those old phrases. The legal writing curriculum at my law school discouraged the use of legalese. And you would never hear me using that kind of language when I testify in court.

Unknown said...

And don't forget all the slang offensive expressions only they use. Recently I came across "toad" for "bad guy" and "dirt nap" for what he does after he's shot dead.

Cute, huh?

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