Writings > Lexical Leavings


I noticed the following in today's Washington Post:
[Iraqi cleric Sheik Ahmed Abdul Ghafour] Samarrae said he has received information that some Iraqi underground resistance leaders have begun to fight with Zarqawi loyalists, insisting the jihadists do not represent the "right and true resistance."
I had to reread this passage several times before I concluded that this "fight with" presumably means "fight against," not "fight on the same side as."

The English-English dictionaries I checked give only the "fight against" meaning of "fight with." For example:
If one person fights with another, or fights them, they have an angry disagreement or quarrel. (Cobuild)
But it's easy to find examples of the "fight on the same side as" meaning:
A man who fought with the Taliban and claims to be an American is in the custody of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after being discovered among captured Taliban troops. (AP news report, December 3, 2001)

Bartetzko, who fought voluntarily with the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army using the nom de guerre Shaban, was arrested five days later and has been in detention ever since. He is married to a local ethnic Albanian woman. During the four-month trial, the prosecution argued that the suspect was driven to commit the deadly attack by his hatred for Serbs. (AP news report, May 10, 2002)

The Gordons had fought with Wellington in the Peninsular Wars and at Waterloo. In the 1914-18 war they raised 21 battalions and won 65 battle honours. A further 27 were added in the 1939-45 war, when the regiment fought on every front from Malaya to Germany. (The Daily Mail, May 8, 2001)
Several English-Japanese dictionaries note the ambiguity:
"The U.S. fought with other countries against Iraq. 米国はほかの国々と共にイラクと戦争をした (※このfight with ... は 「…に味方して戦う」の意になる) (Advanced Favorite)

She fought with her feelings. 彼女は自分の感情と闘った《★【用法】 ~ with… は「…に味方して戦う」の意もある》 (New College)

~ with [against] an enemy|敵と戦う(戦う相手が人間の場合はwithが普通だが,~ with...は「味方して戦う」の意になることもある) (Progressive)
Fight with Ambiguity!

(June 26, 2004)