I would have thought there would be some, but I'd love some examples. So are there any languages in which the translation of 'knowledge'is not a mass noun?

  • 1
    Absolutely. This is true in many Slavonic languages. E.g., Russian: знание (singular) has meaning of "knowing that…", while 'знания` (plural) is basically an equivalent of English "knowledge". In some of these languages, however, singular and plural forms match, however they are different when being inflected by noun case. – bytebuster Jun 10 '16 at 18:37

Yes, it can in fact be plural in most European languages.

In French, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian et altri there are connaissances, conoscenze, Kenntnisse, conocimientos, знания... which are typically plural and translated into English as knowledge in many contexts.

Note that most Germanic and Latin languages have a distinction between connaitre and savoir. These words all share a root with the former, distinct from the root of wisdom, cognates and translations of which can also be countable in some of these languages.

  • You are right with what you said; but I'd like to clarify that knowledge can indeed be a mass noun in those languages, e.g. the most general translation of "knowledge" for German would be Wissen, which is a mass noun. What is correct is that there are words related to the concept of knowledge that do have countable status, but saying "it is plural in most European languages" is a little misleading as the English knowledge has more than one translation (I think the English term is a more general one, used for both connaitre and savoir / kennen and wissen, as you pointed out). – lemontree Jun 11 '16 at 14:02
  • (Probably most, maybe all of those languages also have a corresponding mass noun, if they have the count noun). – lemontree Jun 11 '16 at 14:06
  • s/ is / can be. Feel free to edit directly. – Adam Bittlingmayer Jun 11 '16 at 16:15
  • "Cognizioni" is not the translation of knowledge, conoscenza is. At best, it'd be "cognizione" in the sense of "understanding". – Alenanno Jun 12 '16 at 11:22
  • @Alenanno I should have ignored the dictionary. My intuition said le mie conoscenze di ... is a valid phrase. True? – Adam Bittlingmayer Jun 12 '16 at 19:27

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