a blank / white spot on the map

March Hare

New Member
Italian
Hello!!

I came across the expression "white spots on the map" used by a non-native speaker with an idiomatic sense that I would interpret as: 'there are holes in your argument'. I couldn't find that expression in any idiom dictionary (both paper and online) or corpus I checked, but one of the entries in the COCA corpus (which I can't retrieve, ugh!) seemed to suggest a similar, but outdated, use of the expression.

Could anyone confirm that this expression (or a slight variation) exists in native English in the idiomatic sense that I have suggested? If you've never used / heard it in that sense, feel free to say so, that would be helpful to me as well.

Thank you for your help!
 
  • Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Welcome to the Forum, March Hare :)
    I am reminded of 'there are blanks to be filled (in)', and 'there are pieces missing from this puzzle', neither of which strictly refer to faulty reasoning so much as incompleteness of account.
    For holes in an argument, we might say (semi metaphorically) 'there's a (vital) plank missing from your argument', and if you're totally in the dark as to how they got from A to F, we sometimes call that 'knight's move thinking'.
    Hope you like it here! :)
     
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    March Hare

    New Member
    Italian
    Thank you! This forum has been of great help in the past just by reading the threads as a lurker, I hope now that I can give some of that help back :)
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    I would be carefull with this string of words. It seems to be used to mean many different things... I would avoid this one.

    GF..
     

    March Hare

    New Member
    Italian
    Thank you GF. I don't plan on using it actively, but it was in some data I am analyzing and I only need to know whether it's something a native speaker would say to express that meaning so I can comment on the data accordingly.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I think a common expression is "your argument doesn't hold water", which implies that there are holes in the argument. (I hope I understood the question correctly.)

    I haven't heard "there's a blank/white spot on the map".

    Welcome to the forum, by the way!

    [edit] Ah! I have heard "There are still a few blank spots to be filled in", meaning that the plan is not complete or the details are not fully fleshed out yet.
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Thank you GF. I don't plan on using it actively, but it was in some data I am analyzing and I only need to know whether it's something a native speaker would say to express that meaning so I can comment on the data accordingly.
    Um. But we have forgotten to ask you the following... Can we have the the source of the expression and its use in the context that you found this string of words?.. It's one of the forum rules.

    GF..

    We seems to have overlooked "the context riposte" to your opening post in this thread.....
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    Clearly the concensus is that 'a white spot on the map' is not an idiomatic phrase. But even as a one-off phrase it seems wrong to me - surely we don't speak of a 'spot' on a map (unless we are referring to a flaw in the paper). I think area is the word to use, however small its extent.
     

    March Hare

    New Member
    Italian
    Mh, I found the expression in a corpus of academic speech, the expression was used by a teacher, but I'm not sure how much more I can say about it. I hope it's not too much of a problem.

    Thank you James and Elwintee!
     

    TelesforoX

    New Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Searching for the meaning of the phrase "white spot" in the same context discussed here (not native speaker, metaphorical use, meaning a not clear or not serviced area) I've found the reference in German to "weißer Fleck" (translated "white spot") with an entry on the Wikipedia where it indicates a colloquial use with the meaning of unknown, unexplored, unserviced areas. I.e. for infrastructure networks, cell phone reception areas, underdeveloped regions, gaps in fields of knowledge.

    Seems like an updated version of latin "hic sunt leones" or "terra incognita", or in english "here be dragons", but this cannot be used colloquially. ;)

    Thanks all for the hints!
     

    Jean-Michel Carrère

    Senior Member
    French from France
    Hello everyone.

    Just read this in an article about Gascony in the New York Times :

    Look closely at a map of southwestern France and you’ll notice it: a blank spot just west of Toulouse where the place names thin out and the train lines and expressways veer away, like a stream flowing around a boulder.

    Is the journalist trying to convey the idea that that part of France is secluded? scarcely populated? un(der)serviced? all three? something else?
     

    SugrMagz

    New Member
    English
    I found this WR thread when looking for information on the phrase "the White Spot of the nation" which I found in a 1930s book, in reference to the state of Nebraska. I thought I would share the results of my research, since this thread never came to any solid conclusion about the meaning of the phrase (other than to agree that it's not what the OP thought it might mean :)).

    This reference to "white spot" in relation to the state of Nebraska in the 30s describes the area's economic solvency: no debt, no taxes.

    Lincoln County Nebraska | Local History | Roy Cochran
    Landmarks on Paper
    Car belonging to "white spot" enthusiast: "Nebraska the white spot of the nation, no luxury tax, no bonded debt, highways all paid for," etc.

    That being said, there are -- as others have pointed out -- many other meanings to this phrase:

    white spot - Wiktionary << uneducated area
    The Last White Spot on the Map << apparently, a spot that is untouched by other cultural influences
    white spot on the map | English examples in context | Ludwig << many different meanings can be inferred here, and it also covers a "blank spot" which I don't think is the same thing

    It is not a colloquial phrase. It has specific uses. So as someone else has said, it should probably be avoided in any language, unless one knows what one is talking about. :)
     
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