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  1. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #1

    High-brow? A person from intelligentsia?

    My question is related to some cultural realia in Russia and in Britain/the USA. In the Wikipedia there is some information about 'Russian intelligentsia':

    The Russian intelligentsiya and intellectual élitism, whom the philosopher Isaiah Berlin described as: “The phenomenon, itself, with its historical and literally revolutionary consequences, is, I suppose, the largest, single Russian contribution to social change in the world. The concept of intelligentsia must not be confused with the notion of intellectuals. Its members thought of themselves as united, by something more than mere interest in ideas; they conceived themselves as being a dedicated order, almost a secular priesthood, devoted to the spreading of a specific attitude to life.


    'Intelligent' people in Russia are not the same as 'intellectual' people. There are some extra characteristics in the Russian culture, besides 1) being 'intellectual (and this characteristic is not necessary to call a peron 'an intelligent', it's often enough for him just to be educated):

    2) usually kind
    3) thinking about the future of the country
    4) sometimes criticising negative social aspects
    5) behaving in a very delicate manner, speaking 'proper' language', using metaphoric language, never using 'taboo' words or slang, never insulting anybody
    6) usually not very rich
    7) people sometimes laugh at such people because 'a Russian intelligent' is a very impractical person as opposed to a businessman who knows how to make money
    8) usually 'Russian intelligentsia' are writers, artists, creative people.

    The question is: Do you have a word in the English language to describe a person with similar characteristics? In case there is no exact equivalent, what are the closest words ?
    Last edited by englishhobby; 14-Mar-2017 at 18:36.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: High-brow? A person from intelligentsia?

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    My question is related to some cultural ("realia"?) in Russia and in Britain and the USA. In the Wikipedia there is some information about the 'Russian intelligentsia':

    The Russian intelligentsia and intellectual élitism, which the philosopher Isaiah Berlin described as: “The phenomenon, itself, with its historical and literally revolutionary consequences, is, I suppose, the largest, single Russian contribution to social change in the world. The concept of intelligentsia must not be confused with the notion of intellectuals. Its members thought of themselves as united, by something more than mere interest in ideas; they conceived themselves as being a dedicated order, almost a secular priesthood, devoted to the spreading of a specific attitude to life.


    'Intelligent' people in Russia are not the same as 'intellectual' people. There are some extra characteristics in the Russian culture, besides 1) being 'intellectual (and this characteristic is not necessary to call a person '(delete "an") intelligent', it's often enough for him or her just to be educated):

    2) usually kind
    3) thinking about the future of the country
    4) sometimes criticising negative social aspects
    5) behaving in a very delicate manner, speaking 'proper' language', using metaphoric language, never using 'taboo' words or slang, never insulting anybody
    6) usually not very rich
    7) people sometimes laugh at such people because 'an intelligent Russian' (I'm not sure if my correction is right, but "intelligent" is NEVER a noun. You might mean 'intellectual" or "member of the intelligentsia") is a very impractical person as opposed to a businessman who knows how to make money
    8) usually 'Russian intelligentsia' are writers, artists, creative people.

    The question is: Do you have a word in the English language to describe a person with similar characteristics? In case there is no exact equivalent, what are the closest words ?
    No. There is no group of people who fit your definition.

    I suppose more creative people are doing work together in response to the election of our new president, but who they are and what they do has little in common with what you describe above. They certainly don't think of themselves as intelligensia.

    As you know, Russia has a very different history than ours. Stalin's purge of artists and writers and the suppression of supposedly subversive creative people since then has created a culture that is nothing like ours. It's more of an underground, and certain amount of organization was necessary. Here, most creative people can work in the open, so the kind of network Russia's intelligensia has or had never had to take root.

    A high-brow is simply someone who knows and champions high culture - opera, symphonies, classic literature, expensive wine, gourmet cooking, and so on.

    Does that make sense?
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  3. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: High-brow? A person from intelligentsia?

    Thank you very much. Yes, your answer makes sense and, surely, Russia has a different history. But the period of suppression of intelligent people is over, they can speak openly now about their low salaries and they even can ask the President and the government questions about their plans to raise very low salaries for teachers and doctors. So, as far as speaking up openly is concerned, you can do it here. However, the influence of our history of suppression is that there are not many people who believe speaking about the problem can help. They are speaking about it, yes, but nobody (including the government) is doing anything about it. (Some ministers, though, recommend teachers to start their own business, if they want more money.)

    Now back to my question. Thanks to your explanation, I understand there is no such a personality type in Britain and the USA. But, perhaps, you have at least a personality type of a very polite educated person who can't respond properly to rudeness that some impudent people display? (It's part of a description of an "intelligent Russian".)(By the way, thanks for your correction of a 'Russian intelligent', I just used the Russian word without any change.) This would help me in my research of personality types in linguistics.
    Last edited by englishhobby; 15-Mar-2017 at 09:00.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  4. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: High-brow? A person from intelligentsia?

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    This would help me in my research of personality types in linguistics.
    Interesting. Can you explain a little? What have you found so far?

  5. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: High-brow? A person from intelligentsia?

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    . . . I understand there is no such a personality type in Britain and the USA. But, perhaps, you have at least a personality type of a very polite educated person who can't respond properly to rudeness that some impudent people display? . . . .
    We might call someone who can't respond properly socially inept, easily flustered, reticent, or tongue-tied. But that doesn't say anything about whether the person is educated.

    When we talk about personality types, we're usually referring to measurements such as the Myer Briggs type indicator - which, as far as I know, doesn't have anything to do with intelligence, education, or good manners.

    Here are some words you might look up if you don't know them yet:

    - egghead
    - academic (the noun)
    - culturati
    - literati
    - snob
    - mensch
    - urbane
    - chivalrous

    None fit your meaning, but they're all useful in other ways. We don't have a word that corresponds to yours.
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 15-Mar-2017 at 16:01.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

  6. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: High-brow? A person from intelligentsia?

    PS - Correction!

    My wife reminded me: "Intelligentsia" (also spelled "intelligensia) is an English word. I was so busy trying to think of another word that I didn't think of mentioning yours!

    We probably got it from you. (English is a magpie: It builds by taking things.) Our meaning is a little different in that it has nothing to do with good manners:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligentsia

    But the word is the same and describes roughly the same group of people.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #7

    Re: High-brow? A person from intelligentsia?

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    But, perhaps, you have at least a personality type of a very polite educated person who can't respond properly to rudeness that some impudent people display?
    The word milquetoast fits that sort of person fairly well. I was going to write "it has largely fallen out of use", but this ngram actually demonstrates the opposite.
    I am not a teacher.

  8. englishhobby's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: High-brow? A person from intelligentsia?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Interesting. Can you explain a little? What have you found so far?
    Some researchers at my university are studying so-called 'cultural personality types' and the perceptions of these types by the people of the same (or another) culture. I personally have been studying the perceptions of the Queen as a personality type (which includes both constant, unchangeable characteristics of all representatives of the social group of British queens and their individual characteristics). Now some of my colleagues are starting to research the personality type of the 'intelligent Russian', so they asked me to help them find out some descriptions of this personality type in other cultures. I know it exists only in the mind of Russians, but I thought there may be some similar personalities. Now I see I was mistaken. Anyway, the words suggested in this thread will be useful as examples of the absence of the personality type under study in other cultures.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

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    #9

    Re: High-brow? A person from intelligentsia?

    I'd use the English term the Russian intelligentsia, explaining its meaning in Russian the first time it appears. Don't use the intelligent Russian,​ which doesn't mean the same thing.
    I am not a teacher.

  10. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: High-brow? A person from intelligentsia?

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    The word milquetoast fits that sort of person fairly well. I was going to write "it has largely fallen out of use", but this ngram actually demonstrates the opposite.
    Yup, I thought of milquetoast later. Good one!
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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