Human olfaction at the intersection of language, culture and biology

Samenvatting

Philosophers, biologists and anthropologists alike have pondered why humans are limited in their sense of olfaction. Olfactory experiences seem to be "ineffable", difficult or even impossible to put into words. Over a century of research reinforces this conjecture, leading scholars to conclude we have an attenuated sense of smell (e.g. Shepherd, 2004). Olfaction is said to be important for autobiographical memory and emotion (which are processed together in the limbic system) but not for language or semantics (processed in neocortex) (e.g. Lorig, 1999).

But there is accumulating evidence that challenges this view. Humans recognize thousands of distinct smells and can detect odors even in minute quantities. And it appears that there are people who can describe odors easily without recourse to source descriptions. Jahai speakers of the Malay Peninsula are one such group. The Jahai have a rich abstract vocabulary to talk about olfactory qualities (Burenhult & Majid, 2011; Majid & Burenhult, in prep.), and they use these terms as veridically as color terms, for instance, while lacking the expected affective and memory associations. Languages like Jahai challenge our current understanding of olfaction.

This project aims to (1) establish whether identified olfactory terms are indeed abstract in some cultures. Although there is promising evidence in this direction there is no definitive study as yet. The project will take a unique integrative approach and study multiple "smell cultures", both small-scale, lesser-known language communities and experts smellers, such as wine- and tea-experts, within our own community. (2) Test the hypothesis that olfactory language restructures mental representations. The following specific hypotheses will be tested: (a) Conventionalized olfactory language weakens the link between specific odors and autobiographical memory. (b) Olfactory language weakens the direct link between olfaction and emotion. (c) Olfactory language reifies olfactory representations making them easier to bring to consciousness and manipulate.

Producten

Wetenschappelijk artikel

  • S.C. Levinson, A. Majid(2013): The island of time: Yélî Dnye, the language of Rossel Island Frontiers in Psychology pp. 1 - 11
  • O. Ozturk, S. Shayan, U. Liskowski, A. Majid(2013): Language is not necessary for color categories Developmental Science pp. 111 - 115
  • T. Regier, N. Khetarpal, A. Majid(2013): Inferring semantic maps Linguistic Typology pp. 89 - 105
  • S. Dolscheid, S. Shayan, A. Majid, D. Cassanto(2013): The thickness of musical pitch: Psychophysical evidence for linguistic relativity Psychological Science pp. 613 - 662
  • B. Malt, A. Majid(2013): How thought is mapped into words WIREs: Cognitive Science pp. 583 - 597
  • A Majid(2013): Making semantics and pragmatics "sensory". Journal of Pragmatics pp. 48 - 51
  • E Wnuk, A Majid(2014): Revisiting the limits of language: The odor lexicon of Maniq. Cognition pp. 125 - 138
  • S Levinson, A Majid(2014): Differential Ineffability and the Senses Mind & Language pp. 407 - 427
  • E. Wnuk, N. Burenhult(2014): Contact and isolation in hunter-gatherer language dynamics: Evidence from Maniq phonology (Aslian, Malay Peninsula) Studies in Language pp. 956 - 981
  • B.C. Malt, E. Ameel, I. Mutsumi, S.P. Gennari, S. Noburo, A. Majid(2014): Human locomotion in languages: Constraints on moving and meaning. Journal of Memory and Language pp. 107 - 123
  • S Dolscheid, S Hunnius, D Casasanto, A Majid(2014): Prelinguistic infants are sensitive to space-pitch associations found across cultures. Psychological Science pp. 1256 - 1261
  • S. Shayan, O. Ozturk, M. Bowerman, A. Majid(2014): Spatial metaphor in language can promote the development of cross-modal mappings in children. Developmental Science pp. 636 - 643
  • A Majid, F. Jordan, M. Dunn(2014): Semantic systems in closely related languages Language Sciences pp. 1 - 18
  • D.I. Slobin, I. Ibarretxe-Antuñano, A. Kopecka, A Majid(2014): Manners of human gait: a crosslinguistic event-naming study Cognitive Linguistics pp. 701 - 741
  • A Majid, N Burenhult(2014): Odors are expressible in language, as long as you speak the right language Cognition pp. 266 - 270
  • A. Majid, M. Van Staden(2015): Can nomenclature for the body be explained by embodiment theories? Topics in Cognitive Science pp. 570 - 594 ISSN: 1756-8765.
  • M.E. Kret, J.M. De Valk, J. Wijnen(2015): Anger fosters action Frontiers in Psychology pp. 1 - 7
  • L. San Roque, K.H. Kendrick, E. Norcliffe, P. Brown, R. Defina, M. Dingemanse, T. Dirksmeyer, N.J. Enfield, S. Floyd, J. Hammond, G. Rossi, S. Tufvesson, S. van Putten, A Majid(2015): Vision verbs dominate in conversation across cultures, but the ranking of non-visual verbs varies Cognitive Linguistics pp. 31 - 60
  • A Majid(2015): Cultural factors shape olfactory language Trends in Cognitive Science pp. tba - tba
  • L. San Roque, K. Kendrick, E. Norcliffe, P. Brown, R. Defina, M. Dingemanse, T. Dirksmeyer, N.J. Enfield, S. Floyd, J. Hammond, G. Rossi, S. Tufvesson, S. van Putten, A Majid(2015): Vision verbs dominate in conversation across cultures, but the ranking of non-visual verbs varies Cognitive Linguistics pp. 31 - 60
  • A. Majid, M. Dingemanse, T. M Van Leeuwen, B. Todil, A. Agameya(2016): Nonrandom associations of graphemes with colors in Arabic Multisensory Research (Advance online publication 2015) pp. 223 - 252 ISSN: 2213-4794.
  • I. Croijmans, A. Majid(2016): Not All Flavor Expertise Is Equal: The Language of Wine and Coffee Experts PLoS ONE pp. 1 - 21

Hoofdstuk in boek

  • J. L. Jackson, A Majid(2013): Oxford Bibliographies Online pp. 0 - 0 , Oxford
  • A. Majid(2014): Oxford Handbooks Online pp. 0 - 1 , Oxford
  • B. Malt, S. Gennari, M. Imai, E. Ameel, N. Saji, A Majid(2015): pp. unknown - unknown , Cambridge
  • N. Kruspe, N. Burenhult, E. Wnuk(2015): The Handbook of Austroasiatic Languages pp. 415 - 474 , Leiden
  • G. Vigliocco, D. Vinson, L.J. Speed, E. Dabrowska, D. Divjak(2015): Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. pp. 190 - 210 , London/New York

Publicatie bedoeld voor een breed publiek

  • A. Majid(2015): Capturing Smell in Words pp. 70 - 72
  • I. Croijmans(2016): Gelukkig kunnen we erover praten: Over de kunst om geuren en smaken in woorden te omschrijven pp. 80 - 81
  • L. Speed(2016): The knowing nose pp. 510 - 515

Professionele publicatie

  • L. San Roque, A. Majid, S. van Putten(2016): Taal en de zintuigen pp. 10 - 13

Publieksinformatie

  • A Majid(2012): Olfactory language in hunter-gatherer communities
  • A Majid(2013): What cross-cultural data tells us about odors and memory
  • A Majid(2013): Space as a metaphor for time and sound across cultures
  • A Majid(2013): Language and memory for 21st century Malaysia
  • A Majid(2013): Language and memory for 21st century Malaysia
  • A Majid(2013): Olfaction at the intersection of the humanities and the brain
  • A Majid(2013): Cross-modal correspondences in the language of perception
  • A Majid(2013): Meaning, mind, culture
  • A Majid(2013): Frontiers in Cultural Psychology
  • A Majid(2013): Meaning, mind, culture
  • A Majid(2013): Sensory properties within languages and without language
  • A Majid(2013): Olfactory language and cognition
  • A Majid(2013): Emotion Review
  • (2013): Meaning: Shaped by culture, fit to the mind
  • A Majid(2013): Space as a metaphor for time and sound across cultures
  • A Majid, A Gaby, L Boroditsky(2013): Time in terms of space
  • A Majid(2013): Discourse Processes
  • A Majid(2013): What cross-cultural data tells us about odors and memory
  • A Majid(2013): Frontiers in Cognitive Science
  • A Majid(2013): Academia Europaea
  • B van Maris(2013): Zo ruikt een zonnige dag
  • A. Krzeminska(2014): Nos ma glos
  • M. Karala(2014): Hajuaistia voi harjoittaa
  • (2014): Why can't English speakers say what they smell
  • A. Franz(2014): Thailand: Urwaldbewohner unterscheiden 15 abstrakte Duft-Namen
  • S. Decorte(2014): Hoe noem je de geur van bloemen?
  • (2014): Does speaking English limit our sense of SMELL?
  • (2014): Press Overview 2014
  • (2014): It's pretty hard to put a smell into words
  • A. Gerschenfeld(2014): Na língua deste povo nómada da Malásia há todo um mundo de cheiros
  • N. Himmelmann(2014): Sprachenvielfalt als natürliches Experiment
  • A Majid(2014): Language ?? Thought panel
  • (2014): Dofter och färger ? bara en tolkningsfråga
  • W. Krischke(2014): Linguistik der Düfte
  • A Majid(2014): Is space special
  • A Majid(2014): The relationship between words and concepts
  • (2014): English speakers, you stink at identifying smells
  • (2014): N/A
  • M. Kolkman(2014): Oud eten ruikt nogal pkoes
  • L.J. Speed, I. Croijmans(2015): Olfactory language and cognition: Hunter-gatherers, Experts and Synesthetes
  • A. Majid, L.J. Speed(2015): Grammatical gender affects odour perception and memory
  • I. Croijmans(2015): The domain specific influence of expertise on flavour naming
  • E. Wnuk(2015): Smell terminology and cross-modal smell associations among three culturally and linguistically diverse groups
  • I Croijmans, A Majid(2015): Flavour expertise and its influence on olfactory language
  • A Majid(2015): Categorising human locomotion in language and thought
  • (2015): N/A
  • (2015): We kunnen nauwelijks omschrijven hoe iets ruikt
  • I. Croijmans(2015): Quantifying the Language of Dutch Flavour Experts
  • A Majid(2015): New Perspectives in Semantic Typology
  • (2015): Press Overview 2015
  • I. Croijmans(2015): Odor naming is difficult, even for wine and coffee experts
  • A Majid(2015): The development of sound-space associations
  • L.J. Speed, A. Majid(2015): Olfactory language and cognition in odour-colour synaesthesia
  • A Majid(2015): What cross-cultural research can tell us about colours and odours
  • L.J. Speed, A. Majid(2015): Comprehension of words describing speed involves speed in auditory and visual perception.
  • I. Croijmans, A. Majid(2016): The science of beer
  • E. Wnuk(2016): Specificity at the basic level in event taxonomies: The case of Maniq verbs of ingestion
  • I. Croijmans, A. Majid(2016): Human olfaction at the intersection of language, culture and biology
  • P. Manko, L. Speed, J. Huisman, I. Croijmans, A. Majid(2016): Hoe voelt blauw? Hoe klinkt citroengeur? Welke verbanden leg jij tussen je zintuigen?
  • I. Croijmans(2016): Sportzomer 2016 - Interview with Ilja Croijmans
  • E. Wnuk(2016): The language of scents
  • I. Croijmans(2016): VRT Radio 1 Belgie - Interview with Ilja Croijmans
  • A. Majid(2016): The Neglected Sense
  • L. Speed(2016): Grammatical gender affects odor cognition.
  • I. Croijmans, A. Majid(2016): Language does not explain the domain-specific memory advantage of wine experts
  • L. Speed(2016): Odour cognition in odour-colour synaesthesia
  • J. Huisman, A. Majid, P. Buyruk(2016): Taste-Colour Associations in Turkish and Dutch.
  • A. Majid(2016): Als het in taal is uit te drukken...
  • A. Majid(2016): The limits of language.
  • A. Majid, C. O'Meara, L. Speed, S. van Putten(2016): Lab demonstration at Drongo festival
  • E. Wnuk(2016): Een taal met verfijnde werkwoorden
  • I. Croijmans(2016): Blauwe wijn: hip maar moeilijk
  • A. Majid, J. de Valk, J. Huisman, E. Wnuk, P. Manko(2016): Bringing Science to the classroom
  • I. Croijmans(2016): Wijn recenseren kun je leren
  • S. Floyd(2016): How the Incas said 'yuck!' Exclamations of disgust and the Quechuan exclamative word class.
  • L. Speed(2016): Spatial simulation of perceptual modalities.
  • I. Croijmans(2016): De Taalstand met Frits Spits - Interview with Ilja Croijmans
  • A. Majid(2016): The content of mind
  • L. Speed(2016): The effect of olfactory synaesthesia on odour language and cognition.
  • E. Wnuk(2016): Semantic specificity of verbs in Maniq (Austroasiatic, Thailand)
  • L. San Roque, B.B. Schieffelin(2016): Perception verbs in context: Perspectives from Bosavi (Kaluli) child-caregiver interaction.
  • E. Wnuk(2016): Specificity at the basic level in event taxonomies: The case of Maniq verbs of ingestion.
  • I. Croijmans(2016): Hoe smaakt de wijn?
  • L. Speed(2016): Do classifier categories affect or reflect object concepts?
  • A. Majid(2016): What do hunter-gatherers and wine-experts have in common?
  • L. Speed(2016): Rosemary and rain: Comparing the embodiment of sound and smell words.
  • L. San Roque, L. Speed, C. O'meara, A. Majid(2016): Perception Metaphor Workshop
  • A. Majid(2016): Why culture matters: A tour of olfactory language and cognition from hunter-gatherers to wine experts.
  • I. Croijmans(2016): Communiceren met geur, communiceren over geur.
  • A. Majid, I. Croijmans(2016): Language does not explain the domain-specific memory advantage of wine experts
  • A. Majid(2016): What cross-linguistic research can tell us about space
  • I. Croijmans(2016): Getrainde neus beschrijft alleen 'eigen' geuren beter

Proefschrift

Kenmerken

Projectnummer

277-70-011

Hoofdaanvrager

Prof. dr. A. Majid

Verbonden aan

Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Faculteit der Letteren

Uitvoerders

Drs. I.M. Croijmans, Prof. dr. A. Majid, P. Manko, C.K. O'Meara, Dr. D.M. Richter-Kemmermann, Dr. H. de Sousa, Dr. L.J.S. Speed, Dr. L.J.S. Speed, J.M. de Valk, E.M. Wnuk MA

Looptijd

01/09/2012 tot 31/08/2017