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I'm translating an English text into Russian and got stuck trying to find a Russian word for "close-minded." None came to my mind, so I looked in Reverso and I saw the following translation variants:

  • ограниченный
  • закоснелый
  • недалекий
  • узколобый
  • не великого ума
  • косный

I'm not a native Russian speaker, but I dare say I feel none of these variants hits the bull's eye. For instance, ограниченный is rather limited and is thus about having limited knowledge or being a shallow thinker rather than specifically about being unable to think out of the box. Закоснелый is defined as someone who lost his ability to change his views and habits and learn new things, usually as a result of getting too mature, so it's about losing the ability to evolve in general. You can't call a close-minded, non-creative youngster закоснелый. Недалекий is more like simpleton or short-sighted. Узколобый is an insult literally meaning narrow-foreheaded and referring to a lack of intellect in the most general sense. Не великого ума is not a great thinker. I'm unsure about косный, but it seems to be a rather archaic word whose meaning is something like lazy to evolve.

I tried to tackle the problem from the opposite end, so I looked in Reverso to see translations of open-minded, but all I found was открытый (open), непредвзятый (unbiased or unprejudiced), and широких взглядов (of widely developed views).

In contrast to all Russian words listed above, open-minded and close-minded are specifically about willingness, or a lack thereof, to consider and generate new ideas and think out of the box, so Reverso creates an impression, perhaps a wrong one, that Russian doesn't have words to specifically describe that particular dimension of the intellectual capacity.

Giving the problem a bit of more thought, I got especially curious because open-mindededness seems to have never been encouraged in Russia - neither under Communist rule nor in Tsarist Russia. Indeed, one of the definitions of open-mindedness is "the willingness to search actively for evidence against one's favored beliefs, plans, or goals, and to weigh such evidence fairly when it is available." This is something that dictatorship regimes tend to strongly discourage, so I'm curious whether the Russian language developed any positive terms for open-mindedness despite the Russian history.

Are there specific Russian words for "close-minded" and "open-minded"? I'm very much curious to read what native speakers have to say about the matter and, in particular, about my attempts to analyze what I saw in Reverso.


UPDATE: The sentence is: "Why well-informed people are also close-minded." It's actually the title of the article I'm translating. The full English text of the article is available here. My translation of the title is, "Почему те, кто много знают, при этом ... ," where I need to replace the ellipsis by a Russian word or expression for "close-minded." Given that it's a title, I need a very precise and clear translation.

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    could you please provide a sentence with a gap to fill with the word you're looking for? thanks! – Quassnoi Sep 13 at 19:16
  • @Quassnoi : Thanks, I've just added an update. – Mitsuko Sep 14 at 11:48
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    "Сейчас к людям надо помягше. А на вопросы смотреть ширше." (с) – Alexander Sep 14 at 18:29
  • The expression in English is "closed-minded". – Acccumulation Sep 14 at 22:45
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    @Acccumulation: both OED and Merriam-Webster list "close-minded" as a variant – Quassnoi Sep 14 at 23:38

10 Answers 10

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I think you might be looking for широкий взгляд and узкий взгляд:

  • Вроде бы женщины в своих суждениях о морали придерживались более широких взглядов, чем мужчины, но до конца это не доказано.
  • …а владелец «Пенатов», несмотря на его наскоки на футуризм, (показался) — человеком достаточно широких взглядов, способным преодолевать предрассудки поколения и школы.
  • Но у него был свой, узкий взгляд человека науки на чистое искусство, и потому он иногда попадал в досадный просак и возбуждал обидные насмешки в печати.
  • …публицистическая мысль его, стесненная ограниченными формулами, подсказанными узким взглядом на жизнь, бессильна перед величием этих вопросов.

As adjectival phrases, those would be широких взглядов and узких взглядов:

  • Филистерами назывались вообще люди узких взглядов, косных убеждений // Closed-minded, indoctrinated people in general were called philistines
  • Как человек широких взглядов, он не мог обойти вопросов текущей политики. // As an open-minded person, he could not avoid the topics of current politics

Concerning your example:

Why well-informed people are also close-minded

, I would translate it this way:

Почему багаж знаний влечёт узость мышления

I could probably come up with a more literal translation, something like почему те, кто хорошо осведомлены, смотрят на вещи узко or something along those lines.

But all Russian expressions I could think of don't line up as well as English ones and would make a bad headline.

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  • Thanks a lot. Will it sound well if I translate the title as, "Почему те, кто много знают - узких взглядов"? – Mitsuko Sep 14 at 11:51
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    Never heard "узких взглядов" without elaboration (в чем-то, на что-то). "Узость мышления" - sounds weird, like Klitschko speeches. – Sinatr Sep 14 at 14:03
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    @Sinatr: it might sound weird to a fresh ear indeed. Nevertheless, it's a well-established idiom, dating back to at least 150 years ago. It's been used by Dostoyevsky and his contemporaries. – Quassnoi Sep 14 at 21:26
  • Please use the answer form to provide the answers. The comments section is to improve or clarify others' answers, not to provide your own. Thanks. – Quassnoi Sep 15 at 14:32
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In my opinion, "зашоренный" is a good candidate for close-minded in some cases. Here's definition and example from wiktionary:

разг. состояние по значению прил. зашоренный; ограниченность восприятия ◆ В актере, которого нам предлагали, он не видел ничего высокого, никакой художественной перспективы, ничего достойного для себя. Меня тогда удивила и расстроила эта зашоренность.

Correspondingly, there's also "незашоренный":

Отличающийся широким, не ограниченным чем-либо восприятием действительности.

Like in:

При этом те, кто занимается этим проектом, организаторы и участники, — совершенно не консервативны, это современные, продвинутые, открытые миру, незашоренные люди.

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  • Thanks a lot. Will it sound well if I translate the title of the article as, "Почему те, кто много знают, при этом зашорены"? – Mitsuko Sep 14 at 11:53
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"The most important lesson may be for those who receive political information. Sure, it is important to consider the source, but the content matters, as well. Our favorite messengers are sometimes wrong and our least favorite messengers are sometimes right. It’s sometimes worthwhile to pay a lot more attention to what is being said, and a lot less to the identity of the person who is saying it."

The article says:the less you know about the source of the statement, the more you pay attention to the essence.

Having read the article,I got a true impression that the context always rules. So no matter what meanings you find in dictionaries, first see the text, especially when you translate its headline. The headline is the following.

Why well-informed people are also close-minded.

Почему хорошо информированные/осведомленные люди необъективны.

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  • «Почему осведомленные люди так недоверчивы?» – Elena Sep 15 at 17:08
  • Нет, речь о необъективности , о влиянии источника информации на мнение человека. And if you are not influenced, you just consider the problem. – V.V. Sep 15 at 19:11
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I am not fully understand the article (who is Palin?) but the topic seems to be about how people are biased in their politic opinions. I refuse ever again talk to my mom about politics, because, well, I don't listen to her and she to mine arguments.

Why well-informed people are also close-minded.

That title doesn't translate well into Russian. It sounds very good with узколобые (aka stupid), because usually that word is used in context, so it's политически узколобые, but as you already know it's quite offensive/rude.

I'd translate it as

Почему хорошо осведомленные люди предвзяты.

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  • Предвзяты is a perfect match to prejudiced, or biased. Not a good match to close minded – Aksakal almost surely binary Sep 14 at 17:01
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"Why well-informed people are also close-minded." well duh isn't it self-explanatory? if my education and experience tell me that rain falls from the sky why would I be open-minded to some dodgy character telling me that rain falls from the ground? actually the very idea that close-minded is bad and open-minded is good is a close-minded idea itself.

open-mindededness seems to have never been encouraged in Russia

well duh the word close-minded didn't exist in English either until very recently - check this link for proofs - it was created late in the 20th century by the very people who pay you to translate their propaganda articles

neither under Communist rule

oh wow pure gold. the very Communist rule itself is a product of hardcore open-mindedness

as for you question: you don't have to translate a title word-for-word, literally. free example for your inspiration and motivation: check how the movie title Die Hard was translated into Russian

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Unfortunately due to the fact, that I've just signed up to stackexchange, I can't comment, so I'll answer these questions here.

"Почему те, кто много знают, при этом зашорены"? Word "зашорены" is a vulgarism with a negative connotation and it's better to avoid it in articles.

"Почему те, кто много знают - узких взглядов" Grammatically it's correct, but it means that ALL informed people are close-minded. Generally. If it is what you wanted to say, then it's fine. I'd rather say "Почему осведомлённость может быть причиной узких взглядов?", though. It sounds more correct since we use "может быть причиной", thus making the header less yellow. If looks too long this way, maybe try "Почему осведомлённость -- причина узких взглядов?".

Anyway "осведомлённость" sounds much better than "много знают", exactly as "well informed" sounds better than "those who knows a lot".

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    it's honestly not vulgarism and can be found in many sources. – shabunc Sep 14 at 13:39
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I would suggest "Почему осведомленных людей сложнее переубедить," or "Почему осведомленные люди более упрямы/уперты в своих взглядах" (of course "уперты" is quite informal, but it is lucid and has this hint of negative connotation), or "Почему осведомленные люди часто глухи к доводам".

Зашорены/незашорены is a good version in principle, but your variant "Почему те, кто много знают, при этом зашорены", frankly, sounds patently stupid: you take an obviously good quality - "много знают" - and claim that it unequivocally implies an untoward one, "зашорены". Of course the same applies to the original title, but maybe English is more tolerant to such things :).

I agree with others that the problem is largely due to "close-minded" and "open-minded" being buzzwords that don't mean anything well-defined in English either.

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拝啓光子様、

Most of the time, people will read just the headline - make it count.

Let us focus on the purpose of the translation. This purpose should shape the words that you choose.

Is this a 'one-for-one' literal translation? Probably not, that would be too mechanical.

With which epoch would the ideas expressed in the article fit best? You can borrow the words from the articles from that epoch.

Do you want to express your own opinion, ever so slightly, when translating? A translator is a competitor to the writer. They have the chance to do 'one better' than the author, albeit in a different language.

Do you agree with the main premise of the article? Your translation will be different depending on whether you agree or disagree with it.

I would distance myself away from the opinion of the author:

A. "Точка зрения: те, кто много знают - узких взглядов".

B. "Мнение: те, кто много знают - узких взглядов".

Note that I have removed the "почему" question - when present, the word "почему" introduces a favorable bias to the main premise.

You can simplify the wording, but this will remove the charm of your translation:

  1. "Мнение эксперта: кто много знаeт - тот необъективен".
  2. "Мнение эксперта: эксперты необъективны".

Or even:

  1. "Эксперты необъективны, - считает эксперт"

敬具、ゑ

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Open-mindedбез предубеждений (literally "without prejudice"), but be careful to create a correct context around as, as the second meaning is "a person who's easily up to anything", in a negative meaning. Also, despite what Internet says, there is no such word "непредубежденный".

Close-mindedтвердолобый (literally "rigid forehead").

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You can just literally translate them (for yourself) and choose one. By context too and the niceties of this...

ограниченный - he has ограничения (some constrains,some barriers). "being unable to think out of the box." - why not ? he are limited for this too, especcially this. Quite the opposite, it's more about this than "limited knowledge" as "невежественный", it's other meaning really.

закоснелый - a more and perfect state ( as the finality of this process :>) of косный ; "as a result of getting too mature" - it's not about this. "You can't call a .. youngster закоснелый. " - You can do it without problem. There is a process for this "коснение" (this word are realy not used) only and result of this in the adjective, it's not related to age specifically. "..losing the ability to evolve in general." - well, maybe, but that state include that thing.

недалекий - he "has not so far... "(a big imagination,a string of logic,a look in future, in forecasting some processes or actions, etc)

узколобый - he has a very constricted forehead, like a pithecanthrope; it's more rude and strong one...

не великого ума - he has not a great mind.The idiom is ironical and a bit archaic, traditional like from boyars .

косный - https://slovarozhegova.ru/word.php?wordid=12090 - really, a biased one, such as physical "кособокий, косой, кривой" (crooked, curved) but for a menthal or soul's traits. "it seems to be a rather archaic word" - really no.

"зашоренный" which was mentioned here is a vernacular, almost slang.. a bit of village-style... шоры is the things, by which are closed the horse's eyes for stopping of a rage or fright or smth else of horses...

Alsо - Узкомыслящий - the some synonym for недалекий, or узколобый (but not so rude like last), his thoughts are going only in a uncapacious, constricted, predefined way. the opposite for широкомыслящий.

Невосприимчивый - he don't get smth like this kind of things... an insensible..

Предвзятый - he is biased. Before and a priori. Предубежденный - he has an absolute opinion and conviction before he got the facts or discuss yet. Maybe, are these two words eligible for this ?

Also, but these are really depending on different contexts (and what is it really ? ) :

Обскурантисткий, мракобесный, традиционалисткий; Отсталый;
Фанатичный (but this word not so well-defined objectively ), Фундаменталисткий;
Нонконформисткий (nonconformist, for me - it's a positive trait :>), имеющий свое мнение; Упрямый (stubborn), Упёртый (more a colloquial, slang one), непокладистый :>, Тупой, of course (it's rude and too general, of course :) ).

Also you can to use some metaphorical or simple direct full sentences as just description...

недоступный новым веяниям - the idiom, he don't give an access (to him) for a new... winds :> не обладает широким взглядом на вещи...

его мозг/ум закрыт для ...


Well...." "closed-minded" chiefly US, disapproving : not willing to consider different ideas or opinions : having or showing a closed mind "(c) https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/closed-minded

Also, i don't know if this will be useful or not, but I recommend the "Multitran" dictionary app for PC; also definition dictionary by Ushakov (cловарь Ушакова), and Ozhegov (словарь Ожегова), also "Викисловарь" for etymology (or the Farsmer), it's helping me sometimes

P.S. 'because open-mindededness seems to have never been encouraged in Russia .. hat dictatorship regimes" Well, it's the stereotypical political lunge... and the really closed-minded sentence. We can say - "Where this had been been really encouraged in general and permanently and by all and for all ?" Really. had or had not :)

But really we shall say here - it's depend on specific situation, and on many things, which here isn't an one thing but differents periods and situations..
And the versions from "Reverso World's Wisdom" aren't able to change something in this fact...
What are you talking about here ? :> What the generalisations :> ? The "generalisations" like this... well, see the words above :)

"...or goals.." here - well, especially about this : the - real - moral goals is absolute thing for any humans. His final moral goals. It's an axiom,the fact and quintessence of human's nature. Exactly this thing only. Esse Homo.

P.P.S. This is paradoxical - but in my opinion, the speech in the article is about conformist pseudo-thinking, and not about non-conformist thinking. Not about "closed minded", but about easily amenable to various manipulations. :> About conformists who care about who expresses an opinion and some extraneous things, and not what facts are expressed. It's also a issue of trusting the source of information. I don't full understand the author's theses and conclusions, in general, and the main idea, and i suppose, it's not about a language problem :>

But maybe the real meaning of all these wordage and crowned here "closed-minded" is really - the fanatics. Фанатичны, фанатики.

And in fact - any humans are fanatical. The main question is - in which thing exactly ? :)

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