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Language as a model relating to odour quality

Authors
Journal
Atmospheric Environment (1967)
0004-6981
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
7
Issue
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/0004-6981(73)90086-3
Disciplines
  • Chemistry
  • Linguistics

Abstract

Abstract Odour is considered as a message (information) conveying system. Olfaction differs from visual and auditive perception because, (a) some of the olfactive messages are hereditary but (b) at least at human level, some or all stimuli have a changing, contextual meaning. This second aspect suggests analogies to language. In this sense, it is postulated that chemically complex, message-conveying scents, bear analogy to sentences and that sensory excitation due to pure chemical species, is similar to words, conveying mostly no meaning by themselves. Purely physical investigation methods break the message down. The present approach recommends that one should look for “olphemes” (the olfactory equivalent to phonemes) by methods borrowed perhaps from linguistics or from cryptanalysis.

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