Linguistic and Social Constructions of Fragrance

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Linguistic and Social Constructions of Fragrance

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Title: Linguistic and Social Constructions of Fragrance
Some Preliminary Thoughts on Entering the Field
Author: Moeran, Brian
Abstract: The theoretical discourses devoted to smell reflect a maze of fascinating taboos and mysterious attractions. In present-day Western societies, the sense of smell is undervalued. Scents are highly elusive and often cannot be directly named. Many languages have virtually no vocabulary to describe them, except in terms of the other senses of sight, sound, touch and taste. Scents are communicated primarily through metaphors. What are these linguistic and visual metaphors, and what do they tell us about the societies and cultures in which they are used? How do we know what scents ‘mean’? Is smell a universal form of semiotic communication (as global advertising campaigns suggest), or does it vary in different social and cultural contexts (as anthropological and other literature asserts)? Are there specific ‘scent cultures’? If so, in what do they consist? And how do these affect the creation, appraisal and use of fragrances in the three countries – Japan, France and the USA – in which I intend to conduct my research?
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10398/6973
Date: 2004-12-10

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