keep an open-mindedness

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IsisYang

Senior Member
Cantonese
Hello,

I read this on a website but am wondering if it is correct to say so...

- She has kept an open-mindedness, which still fuels her artistic work

Thanks!
 
  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It is correct. Any criticism of the sentence would be based on style (for instance, I would prefer retained to kept). But this does not make it wrong.
     

    Warsaw Will

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Open-mindedness doesn't sound at all natural to me in this expression, and the word isn't even listed in Oxford Dictionaries Online. In fact it's only listed in one out of seven British online dictionaries I've checked (Collins), with the example sentence "He was praised for his open-mindedness" (which sounds fine to me - and possibly uncountable).

    But with "keep", the standard expression is "keep an open mind". "Keep an open-mindedness" gets just three hits at Google Books, as opposed to thousands for "keep an open mind".

    "Retain an open mind" is of course possible (and more formal), but the standard collocation is "keep an open mind", as this Ngram graph shows:

    https://books.google.com/ngrams/gra...an open mind;,c0;.t1;,retain an open mind;,c0
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    But "kept an open-mindedness" and "kept an open mind" have different meanings. Keeping an open-mindedness refers to a general attitude to all events and experiences. Keeping an open mind usually refers to an attitude to particular circumstances. Thus, somebody who keeps an open-mindedness is likely to have an open mind every time that they come across new experiences or questions. It is not surprising that open-mindedness has far fewer hits in an on-line search.
     

    Greyfriar

    Senior Member
    Some synonyms from Thesaurus.com are - 'acceptance, broad-mindedness, impartiality, interest, observance, receptiveness, receptivity, responsiveness, tolerance, understanding.'

    I would happily use 'open-mindedness' in the given context.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    What AndyC says makes perfect sense to me. Open-mindedness refers to "the quality of being open-minded" (OED) and and is listed in the OED online and the American Heritage Dictionary, among others. The AHD definition is "receptive to new and different ideas or the opinions of others".
     

    Warsaw Will

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I have no problem with the meaning of open-mindedness, only its use with keep - to me that is totally unidiomatic, we just don't use keep with states or qualities. Look at those synonyms Greyfriar mentions - these are all qualities and uncountable nouns - someone is broad-minded, they can have or show the quality of broad-mindedness, but we'd never say they 'keep a broad-mindedness'.

    In the whole of Google Search, there are just nine examples (apart from this page) of 'keep an open-mindedness' (and one of 'kept an open-mindedness'), none of which show any different meaning from the standard 'keep an open mind'. At Google Books, there is only one of each.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I have no problem with the meaning of open-mindedness, only its use with keep - to me that is totally unidiomatic, we just don't use keep with states or qualities.
    But we do.:) What about the following sentences (from COCA)? Are they not about qualities or states?
    He has kept an innocence and naturalness about him that belie his upbringing.
    She also always kept an air of mystery about her.
    She kind of kept a - she kept an air of normalcy, believe it or not, at least upstairs in the White House.
    He kept a poker face, trying not to let the sense of disaster show.

    And if we use a personal pronoun, what about she kept her cool/temper?

    If you substitute keep an open mind in the original sentence, it sounds rather different to me, since I would understand this to be a state about something specific.

    If we say that someone keeps their open-mindedness, we are certainly talking about a quality. I admit that I would use retain, but that is a stylistic preference.

    You quoted a sentence which used a personal pronoun, which you did not find unnatural. But if we have (as in the original sentence) a noun followed by a nonrestrictive (or a restrictive) clause, as the case may be, there is no need for a personal pronoun.
     

    Warsaw Will

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    @e2efour - point taken about the examples you give from COCA, but I'd be very surprised if you found any for 'kept an open-mindedness' there; there are certainly no examples at the BNC.

    As I said, my main objection is that it doesn't sound idiomatic or natural to me. Keep an air of mystery and keep a poker face are standard idioms. I am beginning to get your point about retain, however, for your other two examples suggest that the subject of the sentence managed to retain something when it might have been expected to have been lost. I might accept 'kept an open-mindedness' in a sentence that suggested this kind of meaning, but would probably prefer something like 'managed to keep (or retain) an open-mindedness', or 'kept a certain open-mindedness', perhaps - but I do find the simple version with 'keep' just too like the existing idiom for comfort.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    But "kept an open-mindedness" and "kept an open mind" have different meanings. Keeping an open-mindedness refers to a general attitude to all events and experiences. Keeping an open mind usually refers to an attitude to particular circumstances. Thus, somebody who keeps an open-mindedness is likely to have an open mind every time that they come across new experiences or questions. It is not surprising that open-mindedness has far fewer hits in an on-line search.
    I would also make this distinction.;)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    As I said, my main objection is that it doesn't sound idiomatic or natural to me ... but I do find the simple version with 'keep' just too like the existing idiom for comfort.
    So your objection to it is a matter of style, not of grammar or meaning. As e2efour commented in post #2.
     

    Warsaw Will

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I wouldn't call it so much a matter of style as being idiomatic (i.e. natural), which for me (as an English teacher) is the most important aspect of language. I wasn't really putting much stress on grammar: although I suggested that 'open-mindedness' is normally uncountable, I accept that uncountable nouns can occasionally be used with an indefinite article, as in the examples given by e2efour. In any case, as you can see, my objections are fading away somewhat.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think we aren't in much disagreement. The original sentence is slightly off to me. Now if it had been along the lines of "She has kept {an unexpected}{a remarkable} open-mindedness, which still fuels her artistic work" I'd think it more on the spot.
     
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