Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Getting a whiff

The sheer richness of vocabulary in English allows it to express a myriad of intonations (to the delight of writers and pain of learners).  For example, the olfactory information collected by our notice in have many words, each “painting’’ a different picture of the feedback.  In other words, a rose may be rose squared, but each smell is different.

The word smell is neutral, applying to pleasurable sensation of soup in the air upon return from school on an cold winter day as well as the reason we don’t want to cat to sit on us after it has been to the cat box.  A scent also lacks connotation, merely implying information, such as when a dog tracks the scent of another dog.

On the positive side, when it comes to food, an aroma is always good, whether caused by a fresh baked loaf of bread, a delicious plate of paella, or any other delicious dish.  A good bottle of wine or bunch of wild flowers has a wonderful bouquet.  Walking in to any department source, a source of my childhood horrors and many women’s pleasure was all the fragrances in the perfume section.  In fact, a rich smell can be called a perfume in English.

By contrast, there are times when having an insensitive nose is a blessing.  An odor is generally not good but tolerable, at least for a short time.  For example, if you detect the odor of gas in your kitchen, you should check the range immediately.  More seriously, if your partner says that your shoes stink, clean them or throw them out immediately.  It is that bad.  If you visit the house of a chain smoker, you can say that everything reeks of cigarettes, meaning that the smell is omnipresent.  Finally, the reason why plumbers get paid good money to fix sewage problems is that they have to deal with the stench of human feces, a truly foul smell.

So, when it comes to the impressions of the nose, the language is almost as the rich as the content.

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