Kikko Misjudges English “Nuance”

Japanese uber-blogger Kikko scoffs in her most recent post at what she terms lame and unpatriotic promises that certain celebrities have made “if Japan beats Brazil” in the upcoming World Cup match. Kaori Manabe, for her part, has reportedly promised to “hold a Carnival in a bikini” in the off chance Japan can topple the current World Cup defenders. Sure, maybe they shouldn’t be prematurely predicting Japan’s elimination in the first round, but to me it makes perfect sense to make wild wagers when the odds are stacked in your favor.

In the (as always, too long) intro to her post, however, Kikko-san makes some interesting claims about the English meaning of the word “cop”:

Speaking of Croatia (NOTE: the team Japan recently tied against in the World Cup), that’s the homeland of (PRIDE kickboxer) Mirco Crocop. Since I heard it a while ago, I know that Mirco, who worked as a police officer, took that ring name from the “Cro” in “Croatia” and the English “Cop” meaning “police officer” to make his ring name “Cro-Cop” meaning “Croatian Police Officer.” In other words, since a robot police officer is “RoboCop,” then a Croatian police officer would be “Crocop.” But “cop” has the sense of “beat cop” (NOTE: omawari in Japanese) or “po-po” (NOTE: pori-ko in Japanese) or “the fuzz” (NOTE: mappo in Japanese), doesn’t it? “Police officer” (NOTE: keisatsukan in Japanese) means “police” or “policeman” [in English], as in “strange police officer” or “a policeman with his nipples in the wrong place,” so “cop” has more of an informal (NOTE: kudaketa in Japanese) connotation. Then, if you pronounce it “cop” (NOTE: as it is normally pronounce in English; “cop” in Japanese is normally pronounced COPE-poo), then it has an even more informal connotation. So if someone says “Cops are coming!” then it’s like “The fuzz are here!”

Um, no? First of all it’s always pronounced cop (i.e. カップ; it would be different in British English, I guess, but that doesn’t change the meaning at all). And another thing: “cop” is something of a colloquial term, but it has none of the pejorative connotation contained in the Japanese satsu, pori-ko, or mappo (unless I misread these terms), or even the English slang “po-po” or “fuzz.” Any lame-o on the street will “call the cops” on someone if they’re acting like a douchebag. Your posts are always enlightening, Kikko, but you might want to stay away from analyzing the “nuance” (a Japanism meaning “connotative meaning”)of the English language.

UPDATE: In related/parallel lives “news“: Home Depot Criticized For Pledging $10 Billion To American Cancer Society For Every Padres Home Run

4 thoughts on “Kikko Misjudges English “Nuance””

  1. I think that “cop” does have a pejorative connotation, but if was ever strong, it has died down a bit over time. Certainly, at least when you get pulled over you don’t call the policeman a “cop,” you call him “officer.”

    A quote from an Australian policeman:

    Of all the terms to describe police officers, the most difficult to get an accurate fix on would have to be the term ‘cop’. Americans use it almost exclusively to describe their police. In some ways, the word cop when it is used in Australia or the United Kingdom has a pejorative connotation — it is much less respectful than police officer. I had always understood the term ‘cop’ pejoratively because it was supposed to have been a reference to bribing a police officer — “did he cop?” (in old English) means “did he receive a gratuity (or bribe)?” This was why I cautioned against using the term.

    From everything2: “The word actually derives from the word ‘cap’ used in Scotland and the North of England and was used to mean ‘arrest’ ie: ‘Cap him, Sir!’ By the 18th century, across the whole of the North, this had transformed itself into ‘cop’. Soon in was standard slang for ‘policeman’.”

  2. OK, so Kikko’s not *completely* off (she’s done some homework at least) but the comments seem completely irrelevant to a) the present meaning of the word; and b) Crocop’s inspiration in choosing it!

  3. Headline writers in Britain will often refer to the Chief of Police as “Britain’s Top Cop” but it can also be pejorative. I can’t say whether the word derives from taking bribes but I can tell you that the famous music hall line “If you want to know the time, ask a policeman” wasn’t a reference to their helpfulness but rather their regular tendency to relieve insensible drunks of their watches.

  4. Wait… I thought it was a shortening of “copper,” which came out of the mob scene in Chicago. Lore has it that they called uniformed police “coppers” because of the copper buttons on their overcoats. This may require some research … but it’s definitely not perjorative.

    (Oh, we’re all sorta wrong… Oxford English Dictionary has it coming from Cop (v): “to capture, catch, or lay hold of”, which in it self is a modification of “Cap,” a shortened form of “Capture.” Apparently “Cap” didn’t take hold as slang, but calling police “cops” did.)

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