“David smells”

After I posted the previous post, in which I mentioned the words tasty and smelly, I remember that I own this book, which I bought in Korea on 24 December 2006 (there’s a date stamp on the underneath edge of the pages). Looking through it, and thinking about meanings and usages of words, it is apparent that smell works in different ways than the other senses.

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On the first page, the author seems to be confused between the names of the senses (nouns) and the things we do with them (verbs).

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Standardly, the five core senses are given as sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. The last three have verbs the same as their nouns; sight can be a verb, but hearing can never be. The first three verbs corresponding to sight are see, look and watch, and the first two verbs corresponding to hearing and hear and listen.

There’s a third set of words, approximately meaning ‘perceptible by sensory means’, and here things start getting seriously different. If I can see you, you are visible (?seeable). If I can hear you, you are audible (?hearable). If I can taste you, then you are … hmmm, I’m not sure if I want to finish that sentence. Start again – If I can taste this pizza, then presumably it is tasteable, and is hopefully tasty, but that implies a good taste. If it has a bad taste, it is equally tasteable, but hardly tasty. If I can touch you, you are touchable, or tangible, but I’ll have to be careful that you are not touchy today. (But if you are touchy-feely today, then it’s probably alright.) (Or should I feel you instead of touching you?)

On the other hand, if I can smell you, then you, quite simply, smell (or are smelly)! You might be aromatic or you might be odiferous or you might stink!

So, you smell and I smell you. My dog has no nose. How does it smell? Terrible!

(With acknowledgement of and due respect to the author.)

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