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

  • A Majid(2013): Making semantics and pragmatics "sensory". Journal of Pragmatics pp. 48 - 51
  • S. Dolscheid, S. Shayan, A. Majid, D. Cassanto(2013): The thickness of musical pitch: Psychophysical evidence for linguistic relativity Psychological Science pp. 613 - 662
  • 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
  • B. Malt, A. Majid(2013): How thought is mapped into words WIREs: Cognitive Science pp. 583 - 597
  • T. Regier, N. Khetarpal, A. Majid(2013): Inferring semantic maps Linguistic Typology pp. 89 - 105
  • 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
  • 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
  • S Levinson, A Majid(2014): Differential Ineffability and the Senses Mind & Language pp. 407 - 427
  • 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. 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, N Burenhult(2014): Odors are expressible in language, as long as you speak the right language Cognition pp. 266 - 270
  • 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
  • E Wnuk, A Majid(2014): Revisiting the limits of language: The odor lexicon of Maniq. Cognition pp. 125 - 138
  • 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
  • J.M. De Valk, J. Wijnen, M.E. Kret(2015): Anger fosters action Frontiers in Psychology pp. 1 - 7
  • M. Van Staden, A. Majid(2015): Can nomenclature for the body be explained by embodiment theories? Topics in Cognitive Science pp. 570 - 594 ISSN: 1756-8765.
  • 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
  • I. Croijmans, A. Majid(2016): Not All Flavor Expertise Is Equal: The Language of Wine and Coffee Experts PLoS ONE pp. 1 - 21
  • T. M Van Leeuwen, A. Agameya, A. Majid, B. Todil, M. Dingemanse(2016): Nonrandom associations of graphemes with colors in Arabic Multisensory Research (Advance online publication 2015) pp. 223 - 252 ISSN: 2213-4794.

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

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

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

Publieksinformatie

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

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