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    #1

    Regarding a right use of a word.

    Sentence: "Painful to see excellent columnist like him doing acts of fifth columns/fifth columnist in the name of freedom of expression"

    My question/doubt: What would be the right choice of word in the above sentence, fifth columns or fifth columnist ?

    Thanks

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Regarding a right use of a word.

    Hi Razer,
    I'm sorry to say that I don't understand the sentence at all, nor what the fifth column refers to. Is that a common expression where you are? Is there more context you can provide for me?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: Regarding a right use of a word.

    Context: General discussion, exchanges of views between friends. My friend refers to some newspaper columnist (whom I don't want to mention for some reasons ) who is being accused by his fans of changing his ideological views and support to opposite groups, subtly, through his articles. In reply to him I wanted to say the above sentence so was asking the right word for this sentence.

    Meaning of fifth column: A subversive group that supports the enemy and engages in espionage or sabotage; an enemy in your midst

    Meaning of fifth columnist: A member of a clandestine subversive organization who tries to help a potential invader

    PS: I thought sentence would do without context. So didn't give it. Though I've provided it now but I still feel he same.

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    #4

    Re: Regarding a right use of a word.

    Either "acting like a fifth columnist", or "writing like a fifth columnist" or "acting (writing) like a member of the fifth column".

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    #5

    Re: Regarding a right use of a word.

    Okay, thanks for the context. I"m not familiar with this term.

    It's painful to see an excellent columnist like him writing like a fifth columnist in the name of freedom of expression.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #6

    Re: Regarding a right use of a word.

    Quote Originally Posted by razer View Post
    Context: General discussion, exchanges of views between friends. My friend refers to some newspaper columnist (whom I don't want to mention for some reasons ) who is being accused by his fans of changing his ideological views and support to opposite groups, subtly, through his articles. In reply to him I wanted to say the above sentence so was asking the right word for this sentence.

    Meaning of fifth column: A subversive group that supports the enemy and engages in espionage or sabotage; an enemy in your midst

    Meaning of fifth columnist: A member of a clandestine subversive organization who tries to help a potential invader

    PS: I thought sentence would do without context. So didn't give it. Though I've provided it now but I still feel he same.
    The expression "fifth columnist" is not a usage with which I am familiar. I would suggest you stick with "member of a fifth column." Otherwise it might sound as though you are referring to a newspaper columnist (which, in fact, seems to be the profession of your protagonist.)

    Going back to your original sentence, I would say, "It is painful to see an excellent columnist like him doing acts of supporting a fifth columns/fifth columnist in the name of freedom of expression."

    But it is possible that I don't fully understand what you mean to say here.

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    #7

    Re: Regarding a right use of a word.

    The terms are as Razer has defined them. In the U.S. they were used frequently during World War II.

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    #8

    Re: Regarding a right use of a word.

    Quote Originally Posted by billmcd View Post
    The terms are as Razer has defined them. In the U.S. they were used frequently during World War II.
    That is most interesting. I didn't know that. But wouldn't you want to avoid the use of "columnist" (each with a different meaning) twice in the same sentence?

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    #9

    Re: Regarding a right use of a word.

    Would it be wrong to say that a person is a fifth column without '-ist'? We say that in Polish and don't care much about logic (we can always call it a pars pro toto or anything else ). Does it sound wrong to your ears?

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    #10

    Re: Regarding a right use of a word.

    mmasny:The "ist" suffix refers to a person who either practices or subscribes, for example, to some doctrine, political belief or philosophy, and therefore, referring to a person as a "fifth column" would not be correct.

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