Of all the human senses, I find smell the hardest to use in writing. And yet, it’s one of the most powerful, as a number of studies have shown it’s hard-wired into our brain, and a shortcut to all sorts of strong emotions. So why is it so hard to find the right word for a smell?
Turns out, I’m hardly the only one in this predicament. As a recent Economist article on scents recently explained, the human sense of smell itself is weak. Scientists suspect this is the result of an evolutionary trade-off in the primate brain in favor of visual procession power. In simple terms, we see great, but we couldn’t smell ourselves out of a perfume factory.
This is of particular interest to humans, as the relative weakness of smell compared with sight extends to language, too. Humans have no difficulty putting names to…
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