How do non-tastes taste? A corpus-based study on Chinese people's perception of spicy and numbing food

Sicong Dong, Yin Zhong, Chu Ren Huang

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

'Spicy' 辣 and 'Numbing' 麻 have long been known as tastes by Chinese people, though they are proved to be chemesthesis by neuroscientists. To examine the conceptualised perception of 'spicy' and 'numbing' among Chinese people, a corpus was compiled in the Sketch Engine which consists of comments on spicy and numbing food in Dazhong Dianping, the most popular food review website in China. After analysing 'spicy' and 'numbing' words and their collocations, we found evidence that they are indeed perceived as chemesthesis by Chinese people. First, these two senses are closely related to hurt and irritation which are among the properties of chemesthesis. Secondly, verbs that are semantically related to hurt and irritation collocate with 'spicy' and 'numbing', but not with the basic five taste properties. Thirdly, some collocations are found in accordance with the mechanisms of capsaicin in various aspects. In addition, semantic extension of the morphemes meaning 'spicy' and 'numbing' in Sinitic languages are mainly based on the meaning of irritation. Apart from that, according to the data, 'spicy' and 'numbing' interact with taste and smell sensations to some extent but have a loose relation with 'mouthfeel'. A synaesthetic account of transfer from taste to touch is provided for the divergence of 'spicy' and 'numbing' being deemed tastes while perceived as chemesthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages858-866
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event32nd Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information and Computation, PACLIC 2018, in conjunction with the 25th Joint Workshop on Linguistics and Language Processing, JWLLP 2018 - Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Duration: 1 Dec 20183 Dec 2018

Conference

Conference32nd Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information and Computation, PACLIC 2018, in conjunction with the 25th Joint Workshop on Linguistics and Language Processing, JWLLP 2018
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityHong Kong
Period1/12/183/12/18

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)

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