From Linguistic Synaesthesia to Embodiment: Asymmetrical Representations of Taste and Smell in Mandarin Chinese

  • Qingqing ZhaoEmail author
  • Chu-Ren Huang
  • Yat-mei Sophia Lee
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10709)


This paper applied the embodiment theory of metaphor to the study of linguistic synaesthesia. In particular, we tried to account for the distribution of synaesthetic uses of Mandarin adjectives for taste and smell in terms of the degree of embodiment of different bodily experiences. We have found that taste is involved frequently both as the source domain and as the target domain in linguistic synaesthesia of Mandarin adjectives, while smell is productive only as the target domain. Besides, the synaesthetic transfer from taste to smell has also been attested to be more predominant than the transfer in a reverse direction, i.e., from smell to taste. We have thus proposed that a finer-grained theory of embodiment is sorely needed to account for the subtle differences in synaesthetic patterns of taste and smell in Mandarin adjectives. That is, the degree of embodiment is not only relevant in terms of the traditional dichotomy of bodily versus non-bodily events in the embodiment theory. The degree of embodiment is also a crucial concept to differentiate physiologically-based events such as those involving sensory modalities, which thus should also be taken into consideration in the theory of embodiment.


Linguistic synaesthesia Embodiment Taste Smell Mandarin 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qingqing Zhao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chu-Ren Huang
    • 1
  • Yat-mei Sophia Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chinese and Bilingual StudiesThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHung HomHong Kong

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