Cultivated/well-educated

Funambule

Senior Member
Dutch
From a translation exercise (Dutch-English):

It is not very hard to guess what a well-educated Dutch family can experience in the backward French countryside.


I chose 'cultivated' instead of 'well-educated'. I read the definition of 'cultivated' in Collins and thought it was ok. Is this an example of 'you just don't say 'cultivated family'?

Ah, you don't know what the Dutch source text was. That's makes it harder. Just let me know what you think of 'cultivated family'.

Thanks for your comments.

Kind regards,

Hans
 
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I wouldn't use "cultivated" in regard to a person in this sense. It is usually used in respect to behaviour or actions: "cultivated speech"; "cultivated tastes"; "cultivated manners". To call a person cultivated somehow suggests to me that they have been grown, like a flower of vegetable. In other words there is a transitive feel to it. In that sense, however, you can talk about "cultivating friends", but, as you can see, the action of cultivating is done to them by another person.
     
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    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't agree. I think it is fine to use "cultivated" to refer to persons. My Chambers Dictionary has "cultivated" as the first definition of "cultured".

    "Well-educated" would usually refer to a person who has had a good, formal education. "Cultivated" would usually imply that a person is well-read, interested in the arts and culture, but not necessarily well-educated in a formal sense.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'm with M42 on this: I hesitated to reply before, because I wondered if it was "just me":(

    Here's the OED on "cultivated":
    2. fig. Of persons, their minds, faculties, etc.: Improved by education or training; refined, cultured. Of the voice or utterance: indicating refinement in its user.
     
    I don't agree. I think it is fine to use "cultivated" to refer to persons. My Chambers Dictionary has "cultivated" as the first definition of "cultured".

    "Well-educated" would usually refer to a person who has had a good, formal education. "Cultivated" would usually imply that a person is well-read, interested in the arts and culture, but not necessarily well-educated in a formal sense.
    But the fact that a dictionary uses one word as the meaning of another doesn't necessarily mean that they are synonyms.

    No word has an absolute meaning. Dictionaries use similar words to explain the head word, not necessarily to define it.

    I have never heard "cultivated" used to describe a person.
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    I did not say that they were synonyms. I gave an opinion and quoted one dictionary definition to give weight to that opinion.

    I have heard and read "cultivated" applied to a person many times. The fact that you have not does not make it impossible.
     

    una madre

    Senior Member
    Western Canada English
    Sorry, Kevin Beach but I'm also o.k. with the use of "cultivated" here.

    Cultivated in the sense of refined/educated/cultured all rolled into one to describe a person or group of people.

    I've often heard the word used this way.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If you Google "cultivated person" and "cultivated family" you get lots of examples, many from respectable sources. Neither sounds odd to me.

    The only warning I can think of is that the whole idea of "cultivated" might be considered élitist in some quarters.
     

    Funambule

    Senior Member
    Dutch
    Chosing the right word might well be the hardest part of the art of translation. The article is about a Dutch family moving to the French coutryside. It's a 'ontwikkeld gezin'. That means something like this, I imagine: the farther is a teacher or something, the mother has a part-time job (or something), their child plays the piano (or something). So the members of this family have had an education, know how to behave (otherwise they wouldn't have a job), but are not necessarily interested in arts or do not necessarily have refined manners.

    So 'cultivated' might be a bit too strong. However, 'educated' (learned) seems to be stronger than 'cultivated'. Maybe 'middle class family'? 'Middle class' implies 'a good education' and 'good manners', otherwise you wouldn't be 'middle class'. It's difficult.

    Funambule
     

    Oeco

    Senior Member
    English - US
    'Middle class' implies 'a good education' and 'good manners',
    To my US ears, "middle class" does not imply education or manners. Just an average income with a house, two car garage and 1.8 children.

    I'm also with emma regarding the use of "cultivated." It's not a synonym to "well-educated" and, in my view, and it is better in this context.
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, I think Funambule's idea of "middle-class" conforms to British ideas, rather than American. As I understand it, the American model is, as has been said, largely related to income with far less emphasis on cultural choices.

    So, use of the expression will depend on whether you're writing in BE or AE.
     
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