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I find this expression really hard to understand for non-natives. Could you please let me know its meaning? Link to the original text

Each group allegedly consists of between 8 to 10 officers, specializing in sabotage, guerrilla warfare, and the recruitment of agents to work in hostile territory. SAS experts are considered to be among the best in the world in these areas, according to the source.

“Those aren’t ordinary special forces. They’re intellectuals. In each group there is always an ideologist – a professor of sorts – and the rest are experts in their specific areas,” he explained.

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A something of sorts e.g. a professor of sorts , or an artist of sorts, a mechanic of sorts etc is an idiomatic expression meaning the same thing as a sort of professor, a sort of artist etc.

It means that the term professor, artist, chef de cuisine etc only loosely describes the person concerned. It indicates a level of scepticism on the part of the speaker about the validity of such a title.

Does that help?

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  • It does a lot, thank you very much!
    – Quique
    Apr 23, 2022 at 17:12
  • @Quique The idiom can, of course, apply far more widely. Someone might ask "does he have a car" and get a response of "Well, he has one of sorts", suggesting it is perhaps not a suitable one.
    – WS2
    Apr 24, 2022 at 7:30
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There are some people who are not "real" professors (a senior research and teaching position at university) but are in some way analogous.

In this case one can see that the "ideologist" is like a professor, in that he leads the intellectual aspect of the team, but he is not a real professor.

I find the use in this example rather odd. I think it is "translationese". I don't think that "ideologist" or "professor of sorts" would be how a British speaker would describe these roles, instead, this is a translation of Russian terminology.

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