Speaking of Colors and Odors

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  • Editors: Martina Plümacher1, and Peter Holz2
  • Format: PDF
  • Publication Year: 2007
  • e-Book ISBN 9789027292179

How to speak of colors and odors? In many cases, we have to think about an adequate description of a perceived odor or shade of color. Words are not fluently available.The contributions discuss color and odor perception and its linguistic representation from different disciplinary angles: from neurobiology, neuropsychology, psycholinguistics, cognitive linguistics and philosophy. They show that linguistic representation of colors and odors depends highly on cultures of communication. Experts are skilled in discerning finer differences between their sense impressions and have at their disposal a special language which non-experts do not master. The color and odor vocabulary is rare, if there is no cultural habit to communicate the very sense impression. In cases where individuals have to speak of their sensory experiences more precisely they often turn to metaphors. The contributions discuss the lack of inter-individual conventions of naming and describing odors – compared to the more expanded linguistic representation of colors.

Subjects: Semiotics; Cognitive psychology; Cognition and language

  • Affiliations: 1: Technical University Berlin; 2: University of Bremen

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