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英语里表达气味的词只有3个

Describe a banana. It's yellow, perhaps with some green edges. When peeled, it has a smooth, soft, mushy texture. It tastes sweet, maybe a little creamy. And it smells like... well, it smells like a banana.

  描述下香蕉。黄颜色,或许边缘带点儿绿。剥开香蕉皮,光滑绵软、糊状质地。味甜,口感细腻有点儿像奶油。闻起来...嗯,香蕉味儿。

  Every sense has its own “lexical field,” a vast palette of dedicated descriptive words for colors, sounds, tastes, and textures. But smell?

  每种感官都有其“词场”,有各色各样专门的词汇来描述颜色、声音、口味和质地。但气味呢?

  In English, there are only three dedicated smell words—stinky, fragrant, and musty—and the first two are more about the smeller's subjective experience than about the smelly thing itself.

  英语中,只有三个专门描述气味的词——恶臭、芳香和霉味儿。前两者更多是闻味者的主观体验,而非事物本身的气味。

  Asifa Majid from Radboud University in the Netherlands has found that the Jahai people of Malaysia and the Maniq of Thailand use between 12 and 15 dedicated smell words.

  荷兰奈梅亨大学的阿西法·马吉德发现,马来西亚海族人(Jahai)和泰国曼尼科人(Maniq)运用12至15个专门描述气味的词语。

  For example, ltpit describes the smell of a binturong or bearcat—a two-meter-long animal that looks like a shaggy, black-furred otter, and that famously smells of popcorn. But ltpit doesn't mean popcorn—it's not a source-based term. The same word is also used for soap, flowers, and the intense-smelling durian fruit, referring to some fragrant quality that Western noses can’t parse.


  举个例子,ltpit 一词用来描述麝猫和熊狸这种长两米、毛发蓬乱、看上去像黑皮毛水獭的动物,因其气味像爆米花而闻名。但ltpit 并不是爆米花的意思,这不是个基于来源的术语。ltpit 还同样用以形容肥皂、花朵和气味浓重的榴莲,这都是些西方人鼻子无法辨识的气味芬芳。

  Smell information translates straight into behavior or mood and evokes whole memories. Smell doesn't need language. Odors are expressible in language, as long as you speak the right language. It changes the way you perceive the world. Smell is an intrinsic part of Jahai culture in a way that it simply isn't in the west.

  气味信息直接转化为行为和心情,并能唤起回忆。气味无需语言,但可以用语言来表达,只要你说对语言,便能改变你看世界的目光。气味是海族文化固有的内在,而西方人偏偏没有。


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