Objectives: to explore specialized language and garment terms in European languages, and Semitic loan words; to trace and map textile and garment loanwords between the languages within Europe; to determine how textile terminologies influence other fields of knowledge, such as the natural sciences and expressions for the body; to explore how clothing is used as metaphor and literary device in European literature.
Themes: Europe is rich in languages. Through textile and clothing terminology, we perceive contacts, innovations, trade routes and economic structures. Terminology arises and develops in unison with technical innovations, discoveries, fashions, and trade patterns. When new textile techniques or new clothing items come from a foreign place, languages have different strategies for naming them: 1.Adaptation of the foreign name as a loan word, e.g. kimono, pyjamas, or the term cotton from Arabic qtn through Spanish to English, of a 2nd millennium BCE Semitic root ktn (Linear B ki-to, Akkadian kunatum); 2. Formations based on the description of the item, such as German Baumwolle, meaning ‘wool from trees’, or the Greek cloak chlamys shaped as a clam shell; 3.Formations based on the description of how to wear it: English overcoat, underwear; 4.Formations based on the description of the tools used to make it. In South American Spanish is a word for weaving, tejer, and with the introduction of knitting, this new technology was termed ‘weaving with sticks’, tejer a palitos. 5. Formations based on the toponymical reference to the place of production, purchase, or trade: Norwich cloth, muslin (< Mosul), damask (<Damascus).