A colleague of mine encountered a person who selectively distort some message on purpose when communicated to certain group of people. As a result of that, the main message was not been correctly conveyed.

I wonder is there any term or phrase to describe that person trait? I mean this person makes the message false by mutilation or addition.

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    The edit by @Maulik changed this question considerably. I wonder what the OP actually wants. Describing the personality trait, the action, or the role in communication? Is it really "when communicated to another person"? Was it done on purpose or accidentally? – laugh May 11 '16 at 5:44
  • @laugh the edit was done to survive this question. This is a good question. Unfortunately, this'll now get closed! And the title tells us, what the OP wants. Certainly, a term for a person and not anything else – Maulik V May 11 '16 at 8:47

It may be an instance of the children game called;

  • Chinese whispers (or telephone in the United States) is an internationally popular game, in which one person whispers a message to another and so on through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group.

  • Although the objective is to pass around the message without it becoming misheard and altered along the way, part of the fun is that, regardless, this usually ends up happening.


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  • In general, you're asked to provide evidence whenever possible in order to provide high quality answers. - From review – Em. Aug 9 '16 at 13:51
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    This phrase does describe the "message has been garbled during transmission" aspect, but does not capture the deliberate maliciousness of the act. I'm not sure there is a single word that does, I'd probably use a phrase like "deliberately miscommunicated" or even "he lied about what I said". – BradC Aug 9 '16 at 13:52
  • At a minimum, it would be good to add an example of how to use the phrase. I don't think this is low quality enough to vote to delete it, but it really could use some improvement. – ColleenV parted ways Aug 9 '16 at 15:03

In Canada where I grew up we called them malicious gossipers.

This meant (to us) that even a kernel of truth was distorted by the person. Other words we'd have used would be rat bastard or nasty bitch, but they would have had to be in context. Slanderer and scandalmonger might fit, but the listener might not know the gossip to be lies.

Defamer and slanderer both fit, but aren't common here in everyday speech. A lawyer can help use sue for slander.

n. oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed. Slander is a civil wrong (tort) and can be the basis for a lawsuit. legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/slander LINK

This still doesn't work for willfully distorting a message. That person is most likely a narcissistic liar.

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In British English, such a person is colloquially known as a stirrer.

They are deliberately stirring up confusion amongst the members of the group addressed.

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  • I've never heard just stirrer used in US English, although I have heard the (probably related) "shit-stirrer"! – stangdon May 11 '16 at 10:39

In Russia we call them falsifier. I've also heard fabricator.

I'm also familiar with the English term "foger".

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The specific term might depend on how the message is changed. For example, if the original words are reported accurately, but the meaning is changed by omitting the surrounding words, then this is the fallacy of quoting out of context. Or the closely related straw man argument.

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I grew up learning to call this person an "instigator". (Mexican/American heritage. Southern California.)

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    Please edit to include an explanation of why this is helpful (especially as it doesn't match all the described traits); answers without explanation do not teach the patterns of the language well. – Nathan Tuggy Dec 9 '16 at 22:33
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    Welcome to ELL Ben - I think it's really great that you mentioned your background because it can be so important when talking about word choice. Your answer has some room for improvement though - it might help to show how "instigator" can be used in a sentence and explain the meaning in more detail. Instigator seems to me to be a more general term than the "person who distorts your message", but it could still be useful with some explanation. – ColleenV parted ways Dec 10 '16 at 0:17

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