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political pronunciations of ‘police’

June 1, 2017

Has anybody else noticed that when Tory politicians talk about the police, they always pronounce it as one syllable: pleece? Whereas Labour politicians and politicians of other parties, and I think most people generally, pronounce it as a two-syllable word, though with the stress on the second syllable: po-LEECE. Does anyone know why that is? I wonder if it is because pleece is or was a more upper-class pronunciation. Admittedly these days it’s no longer necessarily true that Tories come from more privileged backgrounds than Labour politicians. But my theory is that pleece was traditionally the more patrician way of saying it, and that pronunciation has been passed down through the Tory party over generations, reinforced at innumerable party meetings, committees and conferences, and is now almost a kind of Conservative identity tag. Other theories welcome, of course.

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One Comment
  1. Simon Carter permalink

    Not aware of any political difference in pronunciation but would have though “pleece” was more commonly heard in London.
    There must be more slang terms for the police than anyone else; one not heard anymore is bluebottles which supposedly came from rhyming slang – Bottle and Glass (the same root as “lost his bottle”) so they were Blue Arses.
    Another defunct term was Jacks. The series Z Cars was inspired by a documentary called Jacks and Knaves.

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