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Another Internationalism Question

Crumbly Writer

Will the following be clear to international readers:

"You can't trust this man!" Alan tried to step into Hannibal line of sight. "He could be a plant. Either way, he's got no legal qualifications. He could invent anything he wants."

I'm especially concerned they may not know it means "someone the police planted to act on their behalf" vs. "a house plant". (Hint: I wanted to reduce a duplicate "police" reference.)

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I'd have used the word spy

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
MarissaHorne

UK based.

I understood what you meant, as "plant a bug" is well understood.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Plant is fine - it's in the OED. The subsequent sentences require more context to be comprehensible.

Should be "Hannibal's line of sight".

AJ

Replies:   sejintenej
Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

"Plant," "mole," "spy," and a few others are pretty much stock and trade in espionage and criminal/investigative story telling. It basically goes back to giving context to make clear what the speaker(or listener) believes to have been said.

I'd probably let the first person call him a possible plant, and follow it with (internal) dialogue that clarifies how it was being used.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I'd have used the word spy

It's in a police station, not an foreign capital.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Not_a_ID

@MarissaHorne

I understood what you meant, as "plant a bug" is well understood.


"Plant" in this context is something with an older connotation I suspect. It likely was quite literally referencing a plant, as it is something most people would consider to be inconspicuous in its own right, since it's been there for some time, and isn't going to pick up and wander off on its own. So it is something likely to be overlooked.

As such, that is something a good spy, or undercover investigator would aspire towards being within the context of their work. Somebody who is able to be somewhere important, and being completely overlooked-- like a plant in a garden or somebody's yard.

Likewise, the lack of mobility of plants in general also alludes to something else: You're on a proverbial "garden path" because someone else is in control of the vegetation, as demonstrated by their placing such things along your way.

"Planting a bug" is more about comparing the bug to a seed, and waiting to see what sprouts. Although it also plays on the Garden Path allusion as well.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

It's in a police station, not an foreign capital.


When i was with the NSW Constabulary (i.e. NSW Police) we had two types of people getting information from within and organisation - informers and spies. The spies were the ones our unit sent in and we other officers, and informers were people already inside the organisation who helped us.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Not_a_ID


I'd probably let the first person call him a possible plant, and follow it with (internal) dialogue that clarifies how it was being used.


It's part of a bigger scene. Here, the guy's lawyer advises him not to trust the MC, who has no authorized position in the police interrogation. The idea is non-policeman suggesting something police not authorized to = plant by the police to get his client to agree to something he shouldn't.

Thanks for the quick feedback. It seems pretty clear there won't be much confusion over it. I was afraid leaving out the "police [plant]" might cause confusion.

Ernest Bywater

I doubt people would think they were a green leafed object in the context shown. However, I suspect the word mole or spy would convey a more active role to most readers.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I doubt people would think they were a green leafed object in the context shown. However, I suspect the word mole or spy would convey a more active role to most readers.

In this case, mole or spy implies something different (a professional operative), instead of someone just thrown in so it'll look like he belongs, but who's willing to parrot whatever the cops want.

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

I suspect the word mole or spy would convey a more active role to most readers.


As someone in the U.S., spy wouldn't do it. Mole might.

I believe "plant" came about because like planting something in a garden you're planting a person in (fill in the blank).

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


I believe "plant" came about because like planting something in a garden you're planting a person in (fill in the blank).


It's akin to "planting" a willow (weeping) beside an oak, so it'll drain the water the other plant needs so the gardener isn't responsible to uprooting a living tree.

It's a bit of a stretch, analogy wise, but it makes sense in that context.

Note: I couldn't think of any small, flowering plants that would rob others of vital nutrients.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
richardshagrin

Plant also means a place (building usually) where something is manufactured. From Wikipedia: "factory (previously manufactory) or manufacturing plant is an industrial site, usually consisting of buildings and machinery, or more commonly a complex having several buildings, where workers manufacture goods or operate machines processing one product into another.

Factories arose with the introduction of machinery during the Industrial Revolution when the capital and space requirements became too great for cottage industry or workshops. Early factories that contained small amounts of machinery, such as one or two spinning mules, and fewer than a dozen workers have been called "glorified workshops".[1]

Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production. Large factories tend to be located with access to multiple modes of transportation, with some having rail, highway and water loading and unloading facilities.

Factories may either make discrete products or some type of material continuously produced such as chemicals, pulp and paper, or refined oil products. Factories manufacturing chemicals are often called plants and may have most of their equipment – tanks, pressure vessels, chemical reactors, pumps and piping – outdoors and operated from control rooms. Oil refineries have most of their equipment outdoors.

Discrete products may be final consumer goods, or parts and sub-assemblies which are made into final products elsewhere. Factories may be supplied parts from elsewhere or make them from raw materials. Continuous production industries typically use heat or electricity to transform streams of raw materials into finished products.

The term mill originally referred to the milling of grain, which usually used natural resources such as water or wind power until those were displaced by steam power in the 19th century. Because many processes like spinning and weaving, iron rolling, and paper manufacturing were originally powered by water, the term survives as in steel mill, paper mill, etc."

More than you wanted to know. Plantively.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

More than you wanted to know. Plantively.

It also means face plant. 'Nuff said!

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Crumbly Writer

It also means face plant. 'Nuff said!

Well, that term implies the person attempted to plant their face in the ground. Success in the endeavor is entirely optional. ;)

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Not_a_ID


Well, that term implies the person attempted to plant their face in the ground.


No, usually they were attempting some other stunt and as a result of epic failure, gravity attempted to plant their face in the ground.

Grant

@Not_a_ID

Well, that term implies the person attempted to plant their face in the ground.

Yep.
If someone has come off their motorbike & they were described as doing "a face plant" it means they landed on their face. Usually people try to avoid doing that; it takes great skill to land on your face when the natural reflex is to put your arms out. Hence broken wrists and/or arms are more common than a face plant when coming off a bike unintentionally.

Crumbly Writer

For most people, stupidity is natural. NOT being stupid takes a LOT of effort, and frankly, not many can be bothered with it. Landing on your face is easier than thinking.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

From thefreedictionary.com

3. Fig. Inf. to conceal something in something. The crook planted the money in the back of the refrigerator. What did the cops plant in your pockets?


EDA:

from learnersdictionary.com

: a person who is put in a place as a spy or for a secret purpose

The gangsters never suspected that he was a police plant.

Capt. Zapp

@Not_a_ID

Well, that term implies the person attempted to plant their face in the ground. Success in the endeavor is entirely optional. ;)


And if they miss, they would be able to fly. (HGttG)

sejintenej
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


Plant is fine - it's in the OED. The subsequent sentences require more context to be comprehensible.

Should be "Hannibal's line of sight".
I would also be OK with "mole" but to me "spy" suggests a form if officially sanctioned international espionage


As a(nother?) Brit I understood it immediately because of the context; we would use it like that. Like AJ I also wanted the apostrophe after Hannibal.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@sejintenej

I would also be OK with "mole" but to me "spy" suggests a form if officially sanctioned international espionage


I don't know where that came from - certainly not yours truly :(

At a crime writing seminar, members of the audience were asked to discuss then write down their recollection of a surprise event staged in front of them. However a couple of members of the audience were plants, intended to spread disinformation and blur people's recollections.

My perception of the meaning of plant is that the victims should have no inkling. In CW's story, the character is actively taking part in a police interrogation, and that strikes me as too obvious a role to be a plant. I'd rather a more active term were used. Possibilities include police pawn, flunky, lackey or stooge.

AJ

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

My perception of the meaning of plant is that the victims should have no inkling.

I agree with that meaning, but that extends to when the plant is made. Someone would still be a plant if the police were incompetent and used someone the victims could inkle out.

sejintenej

@awnlee jawking

sejintenej

I would also be OK with "mole" but to me "spy" suggests a form if officially sanctioned international espionage

I don't know where that came from - certainly not yours truly :(


Apologies; I had been looking at subsequent postings and decided to kill two birds with one stone (do Americans know that one?) Unfortunately my edit was in the wrong place. Mea Culpa.

At a crime writing seminar, members of the audience were asked to discuss then write down their recollection of a surprise event staged in front of them. However a couple of members of the audience were plants, intended to spread disinformation and blur people's recollections.

My perception of the meaning of plant is that the victims should have no inkling.

Agreed 100%

In CW's story, the character is actively taking part in a police interrogation, and that strikes me as too obvious a role to be a plant. I'd rather a more active term were used. Possibilities include police pawn, flunky, lackey or stooge.

I did not read the original guote that way. To me it seemed to be an argument between gang members

Replies:   Not_a_ID  awnlee jawking
Not_a_ID
Updated:

@sejintenej


I had been looking at subsequent postings and decided to kill two birds with one stone (do Americans know that one?)


Yes, we know that one, although the usage is getting dated. Slingshot use is frowned upon these days. (And that's without getting into the "animal cruelty")

As to "plants" being noticed/not noticed. As I kind of alluded to earlier, they aspire to be like a plant in a garden and escape notice. That doesn't mean they succeed. Or much like that garden plant, they may be noticed, scrutinized for a time, and then passed over. Being (momentarily) suspected is not the same thing as being caught or called out on it.

Just because someone is a "plant" doesn't mean they'll be effective at it. That said, I probably would use a different term for a particularly inept one, as others have already proposed.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Not_a_ID

That said, I probably would use a different term for a particularly inept one, as others have already proposed.

I think it is a likely term to be used by a criminal who suspects someone is not being kosher about their identity.

Replies:   richardshagrin
awnlee jawking

@sejintenej

CW subsequently supplied more context which, IMO, puts a different slant on it.

It's part of a bigger scene. Here, the guy's lawyer advises him not to trust the MC, who has no authorized position in the police interrogation. The idea is non-policeman suggesting something police not authorized to = plant by the police to get his client to agree to something he shouldn't.


AJ

REP

@Crumbly Writer

Alan tried to step into Hannibal line of sight.


When I read something, I often have my editing hat on. I think you mean, Hannibal's.

As to your question, in my opinion, "plant" is a commonly accepted term for spy. If you aren't sure its meaning is international, you may want to use "informer". Assuming of course that it fits the context of the story.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

you may want to use "informer".


Informer is different than plant. An informer is typically part of the gang who informs on them. A plant is someone planted in the gang to gather information or something.

richardshagrin

@Ross at Play

not being kosher

Only matters to observant Jews.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@richardshagrin

Only matters to observant Jews.

It's included in both the Oxford Dictionary (BrE), and dictionary.com (AmE). [And surely others too.]
Both give two meanings.
1. (formal) used by Jews and concerning food
2. (informal) used by everyone, and meaning proper or legal.

It's perfectly valid if I know everyone who reads it will know exactly what I mean, and I'm sure they will.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

My perception of the meaning of plant is that the victims should have no inkling. In CW's story, the character is actively taking part in a police interrogation, and that strikes me as too obvious a role to be a plant. I'd rather a more active term were used. Possibilities include police pawn, flunky, lackey or stooge.

Adding context (and story spoilers), when the suspects lawyer finally arrived, the suspect refused to say anything until he talked to the guy who told him to contact the lawyer and cured his delusions. Thus the lawyer didn't trust the MC, especially since he was the only one the suspect would listen do, and who had no legitimate reason for being in a legit police interview. The key (missing scene) was when he (the suspect) began confessing what happened after to the cop's terms before his 'deal' with the DA had been accepted and processed.

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