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

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingConference article published in proceeding or bookAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChinese Lexical Semantics - 18th Workshop, CLSW 2017, Revised Selected Papers
EditorsYunfang Wu, Qi Su, Jia-Fei Hong
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9783319735726
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Event18th Chinese Lexical Semantics Workshop, CLSW 2017 - Leshan, China
Duration: 18 May 201720 May 2017

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume10709 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference18th Chinese Lexical Semantics Workshop, CLSW 2017


  • Embodiment
  • Linguistic synaesthesia
  • Mandarin
  • Smell
  • Taste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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