Cachemire, cashmere or kashmir?

The Accademia della Crusca, founded in 1583, states that while Italians no longer have any doubts about how to pronounce the name of this fine combed wool ['kaʃmir], there are several ways they can choose to write it. The most widespread are precisely cachemire, from the most traditional Frenchish spelling, and cashmere, to English. Both are correct; you can opt for one or the other depending on whether you prefer to lean on the authority of dictionaries, which still favor cachemire, or follow the current use, more definitely oriented on cashmere.

The French-speaking spelling is implicitly chosen by the most recent editions of popular dictionaries of use, which feature the main cachemire: thus the Grande Dizionario Hoepli by Aldo Gabrielli (2015), the Devoto-Oli 2017, the Garzanti Italian dictionary (2017), the ZINGARELLI 2018, the Treccani online Vocabulary; from this practice the GRADIT differs, which as the main lemma adopts cashmere.

If the dictionary standard indicates cachemire, the live use, in particular the journalistic one, appears cohesive in the choice of cashmere. Personal backgrounds in fashion magazines show a clear preference for this form, which for example is almost absolute on Donna moderna (Milan, 1988-) and on Vogue Italia (Milan, 1966-), while from the longest lived Grazia (Milan, 1938-) the progressive retreat of cachemire with respect to the more global cashmere is evident.

As a mirror of a prevalent and consolidated use, we can also use the Google search engine, which until September 2017 provided about 142 million results for cashmere and about 11 million for cachemire; the word kashmir (83 million results) is also highly recurring, but it will certainly be more related to the homonymous Indian region.

The current greatest fortune in the use of cashmere is also inferred considering the registered trademarks. Among those deposited in Italy from 1980 to June 2017 the word cashmere appears in 305 cases, cashmere in 35 and kashmir in 22 (the calculation includes both the occurrences in the company name - eg Cashmere Time, Compagnia del Cashmere, Kashmir House - and in the product description). One can think that the cachemire variant, while being able to boast a connotative plus of greater refinement, is avoided due to the risk of misunderstanding; the variant with k- initial seems instead to focus on the exoticism and on the re-evocative recovery of the place of origin of the fabric.