Volume 22, Issue 4 (Winter 2021)                   Advances in Cognitive Sciences 2021, 22(4): 114-123 | Back to browse issues page


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1- Associate Professor of Linguistics, Faculty of Linguistics, Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies, Tehran, Iran
2- PhD in Linguistics, Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies, Tehran, Iran
Abstract:   (923 Views)
Introduction: The current article is the first attempt to introduce and analyze synesthesia in Persian thoroughly. Synesthesia is a sensory and neurological phenomenon in which the stimulation of one sense results in the stimulation of another or more other senses. This sensory phenomenon leaves traces in language as well. For instance, the following sentences are considered as linguistic synesthesia:
Space was filled with a sharp odor (smell → touch)
He took a cold look at me and left (vision → touch)
Ullmann (1964) proposed a hierarchy of sense transfers in linguistic synesthesia. Sense transfer refers to what senses, as the primary senses, describe the other senses as the differentiated senses. According to Ullmann’s hierarchy of sense transfer in English, tactile and vision are situated at the two ends of this hierarchy in which tactile is the most basic sense and vision is the most differentiated sense. The following figure shows the sense transfer pattern in English:
Touch → Taste → Smell → Vision → Hearing
The current research employs Ullmann's notion as its theoretical framework. It seeks to find answers to these questions: What is the overall hierarchy of sense transfers in Persian’s balanced corpus? What are the most frequent source and target domains in Persian synesthetic metaphors? Comparing findings in Persian with findings in other languages, and how synesthetic classification can result in a cognitive typology in languages?
This research has used obtained findings in similar research in languages other than Persian, such as English, French, Hungarian, Hebrew, Korean, Chinese, and German, to determine the universal principles governing the pattern of sense transfers in languages.
Methods: To answer the questions, the researchers searched the Persian Linguistic Database (PLDB) using some keywords related to the five senses to extract the most frequent source and target domains and determine whether Persian synesthetic metaphors follow Ullmann’s hierarchy of sense transfer or not. During this study, no experiments were performed on humans or animals. The research method is based on the ethical codes of the International Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE).
Results: The corpus-based data revealed that the most frequent source domains for synesthetic metaphors in Persian were touch and taste, and the most frequent target domains were hearing, smell, and vision, respectively. In other words, senses of hearing, smell, and vision are mostly described by touch and taste in Persian. This figure can show the overall hierarchy of sense transfers in Persian: Touch → Taste → Vision → Smell → Hearing 
Conclusion: According to the corpus data, the overall hierarchy of sense transfers in Persian is not entirely in line with Ullmann (1964) in that smell precedes vision. However, it conforms to a universal principle in that contact senses are used to describe distance senses. Touch and taste are considered contact senses, and smell, vision and hearing are considered distance senses. Hence, the Persian data do not contradict Ullman's hierarchy in this regard since smell and vision are considered distance senses. This overall principle also governs the sense transfer hierarchy in the other mentioned languages. The studied languages (English, French, Hungarian, Hebrew, Korean, Chinese, and German) use the contact senses, namely touch and taste, to describe and express the distance senses, namely sight, smell, and hearing. However, their parametric choice is which contact senses are used to describe the other senses more pervasively and which distance senses have been exposed to conceptualization more extensively.
These findings can be explained in light of the embodiment theory (Lakoff & Johnson, 1999). Accordingly, the contact senses whose domain of the function is connected and close to the body were the most frequent source domains. This is in line with what Sweetzer (1990) argues about the orientation of conceptual mappings, which originate from the body to different conceptual domains.  This study’s result is significant because it allows for a cognitive typology of Persian compared to other languages under study.
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Type of Study: Research |
Received: 2020/01/22 | Accepted: 2020/06/9 | Published: 2021/01/21