Vagueness: A loanword’s good friend. The case of ‘print’ in Spanish fashion

Marisa Diez-Arroyo

Abstract

The language of fashion is often set as the example of a field where the use of loanwords is common practice, but has seldom been worthy of scholarly analytical attention. At the same time, vagueness is usually regarded as an inherent characteristic in natural language, but, until recently, terminology relegated it, since the traditional approaches tended to prioritise accuracy and standardisation. With the help of a combined theoretical basis, a semantic theory and a pragmatic model, this paper brings together these two worlds in order to examine the English loanword ‘print’ in the domain of Spanish fashion, contrasting and comparing it with native near-equivalents. We conclude that the presence of this borrowed term, exclusively restricted to specialised fashion circles, cannot be motivated by its contribution to specificity, a characteristic that usually distinguishes loanwords from their semantic near-equivalents in the recipient language. The importance of ‘print’ lies in its unspecified, vague nature as a loan, which permits its adaptation to a variety of fashion contexts less appropriate for the more restricted denotation of the native terms.

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