This is a common notion dispelled in any Intro to Linguistics class. Any language has the sufficient vocabulary and degrees of precision deemed necessary by the native speakers.
What one language ‘lacks’ in terms of specificity in one area, is always balanced out by a higher number of specific number of vocabulary words in another area.
The common (slightly misquoted) example is the difference in winter weather vocabulary between the Inuit language and English. Due the nature of the world the Inuit live in, they have a much higher percentage of their vocabulary dealing with specific types of snow, ice, wind, and other cold weather aspects, where English could be seen as ‘crude’, since we’re limited to relatively fewer distinctions between snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, etc. Does that mean English is less specific than Inuit overall? No, of course not, but in terms of winter weather phenomena, Inuit has a larger vocabulary with more distinctions than English, because it’s a much more important factor in their lives, due to geography.
To use your nurse example, English does make some distinctions more precise than ‘nurse’. We have CNA, RN, LPN, Nurse Practitioners, and more that I’m not even aware of. These can all be lumped under the general term ‘nurse’, or if you choose to delve into the medical jargon, there’s a wide variety of distinctions available, and necessary for those in the medical field. Not being in the medical field, I personally can get by in my speech calling them all ‘nurses’.
I often get frustrated by my Spanish speaking students, who will use the word ‘calabaza’ for any type of squash or gourd. For whatever reason, they don’t seem to think it important to distinguish between a pumpkin, zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, or any gourd. If I insist, they’ll make the distinctions in English, but when they revert to Spanish they’re all just ‘squash’. Drives me nuts, but it’s not my prerogative to change how they use Spanish.
In short, for every case you can find that once language is more specific in vocabulary for a given area than another language, you can find examples where that other language is more precise or has a larger lexicon in a different area.
Now, I would agree that German is a more literal language. :lol: