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Pet Peeve: copy that

I dislike when movies or other media have military people saying, "Copy that" to affirm reception of an order. Usually it's on a radio, but often also just something they say to each other. I've also heard civillians in other contexts use that phrase in place of the correct UN proword, which is "roger" to indicate "I understand" or "wilco" to indicate "will comply". Strictly speaking, "copy that" means one is instructing the person to whom one is speaking to write down the previously spoken phrases, though even that would be unusual if not outright incorrect.

I think, after talking to pyr8queen about it, it's because it's something show-biz people say to each other on their walkie-talkies. So screenwriters think it sounds cool and military, so they pretend that it is. So listen up, and prepare to copy; it's annoying and incorrect. Roger?

edit to add, on reflection, "How copy?" Is used to mean, "Do you understand?" but it's actually incorrect and not on the official list. It's a common mistake though that even military personnel make. Or at least used to - maybe I'm just too old school - my Army skills are all Twen-Cen after all.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 4th, 2008 12:03 am (UTC)
Copy that sir!
Sep. 4th, 2008 12:05 am (UTC)
you're fired.
Sep. 4th, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
"How copy?" is used frequently on "Generation Kill," which I have heard is a realistic portrayal of the Marines in the Iraq invasion five years ago.
Sep. 4th, 2008 01:29 am (UTC)
I actually believe, after close study, that the habit has developed in the film industry because many people are sloppy with the talk button and if you don't say more than one word, often half of the phrase is lost.

petit bateau out!
Sep. 4th, 2008 03:30 am (UTC)
Film crew members, both grip & electric as well as art department, use it to indicate that they have heard & understood an instruction. It's used both in person as well as via walkie-talkie. It does sound kind of military and I could see how a screenwriter, in one of their fish-out-of-water visits to a working set, might pick up on it and adapt it for their own use.

Is the origin of the practice military? I dunno.
Sep. 4th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
I suspect it's trucker lingo, though I can't confirm.
Sep. 4th, 2008 08:31 am (UTC)
I can confirm that showbiz folks use "copy that" in this way. It was all over the radio when I was a PA, and it is all over the set of ER currently (and since forever) according to The_Sister.

I have a similar pet-peeve involving 10-4 used with an upward inflection to indicate "do you understand" or "will you comply" at the end of a transmission. Still happens all the time at The Mouse House. The only channel there that has any real discipline at all is Security. Everything else might as well be chat - and they have dedicated chat channels.

I'd be curious to see which films had a Military Advisor and still let "copy that" through. Doesn't sound like the sort of crap that Dale or Ermey would put up with.

I think it totally works in The Abyss though, because those folks are all civilian contractors.

Sep. 4th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)
Isn't the question form of "10-4" "4-10?", akin to the English "Is it...?"/"It is..."?
Sep. 4th, 2008 04:51 pm (UTC)
10-4 is just trucker-talk anyway, that's not military at all.
Sep. 4th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
What about when they're trying to reach someone over the radio and it's not clear, and they say "Do you copy?" Is that just Hollywood too?
Sep. 4th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
Well, people in the military say "how copy?" a lot - even though it's technically incorrect. It all depends on how strict radio discipline is, I guess - on a chatty battalion push, I'm sure there's lots of "do you copy" type stuff...whereas on something like an encrypted satellite burst, which would be text only, it would be much tighter, and that sort of sloppiness wouldn't occur.

Meh, it's just a pet peeve - one of those little things that bugs me, but I should probably just let go.
Sep. 4th, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
All our official radio/commo people said "how copy?" A LOT. Doesn't make it right, but it does mean that it's becoming common practice.
Sep. 4th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
Well that tears it. The Army has just plain ol' gone to hell!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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