Inquiry About the Origin and Abundance of Vague Language: An Issue for the Future

  • Alejandro SobrinoEmail author
Part of the Studies in Fuzziness and Soft Computing book series (STUDFUZZ, volume 325)


The origin of language has entered the current concern of the study of language as a topic of great interest and debate. Although vagueness is one of the most common features of common language, there are few references to about its roots. From a modern point of view, the main property characterizing human language is the ability to generate infinite sentences using recursion. Current linguistics emphasizes the role of the recursion in the consolidation of human language, underscoring center-embedded or coordinated sentences as the top of complexity in the generation process. But pragmatics, not only syntax, seems to play a relevant role in everyday language. Vague language, as previously said, is almost ubiquitous and present in many of the words we utter. We can hardly imagine a communication without using vague words. Thus, they are constitutive of human language as structural properties do. To inquire about how these words may have arisen in the language evolution and why they are so abundant seems to be an interesting challenge. Gossip is a kind of social communication that uses narratives to generally refer the rules that guide our behavior in the complexities of the social and cultural life. Gossip is related to vagueness as there is unthinkable gossiping using only precise meanings. Using expressions not completely defined, nonsense terms, generalities and vague language are common in gossiping. In this work we will show that many functions attributed to vague lexicon matches with many roles characteristics of gossiping. Thus, gossip seems to be a promising place to inquire the origins and abundance of vague language.


Vague language Gossip Linguistic vagueness Abundance of vague language 



This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry for Economy and Innovation and by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF/FEDER) under grant TIN2011-29827-C02-02.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain

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