Gaps in different languages.

Since I speak 11 languages, I am often made aware of words that exist in some languages and not in others. One of the interesting gaps in the Romance languages appears to be a words for “shallow”. They only have “not deep”, or so it seems.

9 thoughts on “Gaps in different languages.

  1. In portuguese there are some examples for shallow, like: raso, superficial, etc But I agree that there are some words that don’t have the same exact meaning, as for example, when I think in this example: "It was meant to be" I can’t think in an example in portuguese that has the same value of it.

  2. Spanish, "playo". I’ve only ever seen it used once, though. Certainly not contemporary Spanish.Italian, "basso". I see this used often for "shallow".

  3. We usually create specific positive words for those things we encounter most often. The words "deep" and "shallow" water, have been key words for sailors during hundreds of years. Defining a word as the negative of another, such as "profundo" vs. "poco profundo" in Spanish, simply might indicate that the negated word ("poco profundo", or shallow water) is not something of great concern. For instance, it might be that there are many more shallow coasts around the UK (with high risk for ships to run aground) than in the Romance language countries. However, also in German you have "untief" (not deep). The Swedish word for shallow , "grund" (ground; from, to run aground), "grunn" in Norwegian, might confirm this idea of the seafaring origins for the words "deep" and "shallow". In Danish however, you have "lavvandet" (low-watered) for "shallow".

  4. @hrhenry – Just for interest’s sake, in Costa Rican Spanish, the words "playo" and "playillo" refer to people of a homosexual persuasion.

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