Cop Talk and other Languages

April 9, 2009 at 6:09 am (Fun Stuff, Life) (, , )

So, I was thinking today…… (and is you read my blog, well usually my other blog, with any regularity, you’ll notice my interest in language) What really counts as a language?

Well, Merriam Webster defines language as follows:

From Anglo-French langage, from lange, langue tongue, language, from Latin lingua

The words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community.

So, by that definition, in addition to the 116 “official” languages (according to wikipedia), there are thousands of languages used by all the sub-cultures of the world.  Then wikipedia went on to say something completely fascinating:

Every minute the number of languages change because either speakers of one uncommon language die, or a child who will learn to use language in a different way than his/her parents is born.

I mean, it makes sense that languages come and go, but the idea that languages evolve simply by a child learning to use language in a slightly different way is really interesting.

Anyway, with this idea that every subculture (see I did learn something in school) has its own language, I guess I would consider myself to be fluent in two languages and currently studying two others.  Obviously (at least I hope so) my native language is English.  Not the most interesting language, until you start getting into the different dialects.  This map shows the 26 (plus Alaska and Hawaii) generally accepted English dialects.

This website then goes into details of the slight variations of each dialect – from different pronunciations to different words.  This website also has a lot of interesting information about American English dialects.

Then, there is cop talk.  This is the language of a subculture.  But it is no way universal among all police department; different departments use different codes (the basis of this language), and therefore have slightly different languages.  This language is mostly English, but there are enough codes and phrases mixed in that it can be difficult for people unfamiliar with the language to understand.  For example if you’re familiar with cop talk, something like “running code to a 962 where the driver is 692” may make perfect sense, but if you’re not, you may know that was “an emergency (lights and siren) response to a car accident with injuries where the driver may have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

Ich studiere auch Deutsches. Dieses ist mein zweites Semester. Ich habe Rosetta Stein benutzt, weil es nicht eine Kategorie gibt, die an meiner Schule angeboten wird. Ich werde wirklich ziemlich mit dem Programm beeindruckt. Vor kurzem erhielt ich Art von festem auf einer der Lektionen, weil, indem die Rechtschreibung auf Deutsch, nicht groß ist, und das Programm lässt Sie nicht fortfahren, bis Sie eine Lektion führen. Meine Hoffnung ist, nach Deutschland zu reisen und muss nicht hoffen, dass die Leute dort Englisch sprechen. (Ok, so my German isn’t that good yet, I am hoping the online translator is at least close in their translation… I’ll try to check it tomorrow…)



  1. Tanya Savko said,

    It’s a little bit like that in the autism “subculture.” Lots of acronyms to learn!

    • Jessica said,

      Good point. I am no where near fluent in that language. But I do try to keep up with it.

  2. Bree said,

    I was once told by a Deaf Teacher, that without language one could not have thoughts. I ponder this alot and am still not sure about this construct.

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