Talk:police

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Shouldn't these long lists be moved to WikiSaurus? --Connel MacKenzie T C 05:20, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

Tea room discussion[edit]

Note: the below discussion was moved from the Wiktionary:Tea room.

I am having trouble with this. It formerly said that it was a collective noun. That seemed clearly wrong. It might be viewed as a demonym, I suppose. Ignoring the archaic, obsolete, and rare senses, "police" can refer to either one or more police organizations or to members of the police force. In addition, in non-standard usage it can refer to a single policeman ("He was stopped by a police for no reason.").

There are four usage patterns:

  • Standard; sense: organization; single referent; verb: plural
  • Standard; sense: organization; plural referent; verb: plural
  • Standard; sense: member of police force; plural referent; verb: plural
  • Nonstandard; sense: member of police force; singular referent; verb: singular

Is the way it is now presented in the entry correct? How could it be better presented? DCDuring TALK 20:21, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

I've never heard "a police" or "three police" (sense 2)—is this a regionalism? Currently, sense 3 looks like the same thing to me, although I think it would be correct if qualified as "plural only". I can see "three of the police", meaning the organization or a plural-only noun (I don't think collective is the right term—what do you call a mass noun for people?). Michael Z. 2008-05-01 21:51 Z
At a substantive level, the third pattern is debatable as to whether it is standard. I think it is standard in the US. The fourth seems to me to be nonstandard in the US. I know that it is used in the US. It might be common in AAVE or perhaps it is nonstandard in AAVE. It is in DARE, but I haven't looked it up there. MW3 declares police to be plural in all senses, which makes pattern 4 nonstandard for them. Once we have the substance settled we can go on to the troubling presentation questions. DCDuring TALK 22:06, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
In my experience in the UK "police" is always plural, "policeman" ("policemen"), "policewoman" ("policewomen"), "police officer" ("police officers"), "police constable" ("police constables") and "police force" ("police forces") are all standard singulars with distinct plural forms (although some/all are probably SOP). "police <rank>" (e.g. "police sergent") and the standard plural forms are all also possible and standard although less common (generally I think the higher the rank the less common it is, and I don't think I've heard "police chief constable").
Slang and other informal terms, e.g. "copper" ("coppers"), bobby ("bobbies"), etc, also have singular and plural forms (although I don't know whether the singular "peeler" is/was ever used?), so there are plenty of words to choose from such that a singular "police" isn't required. Thryduulf 22:27, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
NOAD supports #3 in a subsense: "members of a police force: there are fewer women police than men."
By the way, it also adds a separate sense for police in some specified domain, as opposed to a government's civil force, including the figurative use, with the examples transit police and fashion police. CanOD makes these two senses, adding the respective examples military police and language police. Michael Z. 2008-05-01 22:33 Z
I don't know how different the sense for specialized police forces is, but in a complete dictionary it should be there. More definitely the figurative "fashion police" sense has become common and ought to be entered. They will inherit the standard plural characteristics of the most basic sense of police I think. I look forward to more opinions on both substance and the presentation of this. DCDuring TALK 00:25, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Some of the specialist and figurative polices considered as a whole can take "a police" in a comparative context, e.g. "They're acting as if they're a fashion police.", but "Does he think he's the thought police or something?". "Does he think he's a thought police?" is possible but to me it feels like "police" is still being treated as plural even though he is the entirety of the police force, in the same way that a single person can be a company. If there were more than just the one person, especially if the person in question wasn't the only significant person in the group, then it would be far more normal (imho) to phrase it like "Does he think he's a thought policeman?".
Referring to multiple police forces is odd too, e.g. I wouldn't say "The British and American polices held a joint conference", but I might say "The polices of Britain and America held a joint conference" but "police" in either formulation seems fine. Thryduulf 01:03, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I guess you're not a fan of The Wire. "I'm a murder police. I work murders." It does sound rather nonstandard to my Midwestern ears, but I'm not sure how folks elsewhere in the country would hear it. -- Visviva 01:14, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
In my head I can hear folks from the other side of town here, saying "a police", but not likely "polices". DCDuring TALK 01:23, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I'd taken it on faith that "polices" is not a valid standard plural and is not the plural of the purportedly nonstandard singular "police" (though I wouldn't swear to this last). It would be virtually impossible to use Google to attest to "polices" as a plural because of the fairly common scanno for "policies", the 3rd person present singular verb form, and French text that Google labels as English. DCDuring TALK 01:23, 2 May 2008 (UTC)