Synaesthesia in Chinese: A corpus-based study on gustatory adjectives in Mandarin

Qingqing Zhao, Chu Ren Huang, Yunfei Long

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This study adopted a corpus-based approach to examine the synaesthetic metaphors of gustatory adjectives in Mandarin. Based on the distribution of synaesthetic uses in the corpus, we found that: (1) the synaesthetic metaphors of Mandarin gustatory adjectives exhibited directionality; (2) the directionality of Mandarin synaesthetic gustatory adjectives showed both commonality and specificity when compared with the attested directionality of gustatory adjectives in English, which calls for a closer re-examination of the claim of cross-lingual universality of synaesthetic tendencies; and (3) the distribution and directionality of Mandarin synaesthetic gustatory adjectives could not be predicted by a single hypothesis, such as the embodiment-driven approach or the biological association-driven approach. Thus, linguistic synaesthesia was constrained by both the embodiment principle and the biological association mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1167-1194
Number of pages28
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2018


  • corpus-based
  • gustatory adjectives
  • Mandarin
  • synaesthetic metaphors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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