Analyzing the metaphorical components of sensory descriptors: Experimental approaches

Sensory descriptors

Laurent Gautier & Mariele Mancebo Garcia (Centre Interlangues Texte Image Langage, Université de Bourgogne, France)

From 4 to 12 participants

Contact the organizers here.

Discourses on sensory perceptions, for instance on food and wine, are increasingly becoming research objects for linguists, especially within the cognitive paradigm that enables to take into account key dimensions such as prototypicality, cultural specificity, multimodality, embodiment… (Gautier/Lavric 2015, Temmerman/Dubois 2017, Digonnet 2018, Winter 2019) One of the most common presuppositions of these studies is the postulated lack of specific vocabulary, at least in Indo-European languages (see Majid/Burenhult 2014 for another point of view based on Asiatic languages). This would explain the role played by metaphors for the creation of so-called sensory descriptors (Diederich 2015).

 In this general context, the proposed workshop aims at re-examining the question of the data potentially used to tackle this question, building on evidence from cognitive psychology and sensory sciences scarcely present in linguistic studies (Dubois 1997, 2009). The advances in corpus linguistics and the very large corpora available make it easy to work on the basis of written texts pertaining to some clearly identified genres such as wine reviews or food evaluations (Gautier 2019a). Without ignoring the benefits – especially from a quantitative point of view – of such approaches characterized by a rather static perspective on metaphorical terms, the workshop will propose to discuss and test the mixed methodologies developed at our lab. They aim at analyzing (metaphorical) descriptors from a dynamic perspective relying on the experimental production of situated data (Gautier 2018, Gautier 2019b), especially: questionnaires with stimulus, questionnaires without stimulus, deep interviews and focus group interactions (Mancebo Garcia 2019) revealing the dynamic processes of metaphorical conceptualization and verbalization.

 Workshop format and activities:

The workshop will begin with a short presentation (30mn) of the methodology, focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of both types of approach and will then focus of the four forms of corpus collection mentioned above: Which kind of data do they focus? What can the linguist expect for the analysis of metaphors? How to combine quantitative with qualitative metaphor analysis?

 On the basis of concrete examples from past and on-going projects, workshop participants will then concentrate on one or two forms of data production and will try to design their own experimental procedures for a product of their choice (60 min) leading to a common discussion (30 min).

 Requirements for participation:

- basic knowledge of cognitive semantics theories (prototype theory, blending, conceptual metaphors, frame semantics)

- basic knowledge of experimental methods of data collection

- interest for “sensory linguistics”


About the organizers

Laurent Gautier is a Full Professor of Applied Linguistics (Germanic languages), Laurent Gautier works on cognitive and corpus-based analysis of specialized discourses, especially in the field of sensory perceptions (wine, tea, chocolate, food, perfumes), crossing the discourses of both experts/professionals and consumers. He has developed and experienced several methodological tools to re-examine sensory terminology in the light of situated and embodied cognitive semantics.

 Mariele Mancebo Garcia is a lector for Portuguese language, Mariele Mancebo Garcia is the author of a PhD thesis in linguistics dealing with the discursive construction of sensory descriptors for French and Brazilian sparkling wines (resp. Crémant de Bourgogne and espumantes). In her work, she has implemented three methodological approaches to collect “real-life” data permitting a multidimensional and multimodal analysis of sensory terms.



Cayot, Philippe / Gautier, Laurent / Soubrier, Jean (2009).  “Définir, dénommer et traduire l’onctuosité : regards croisés sur une propriété gustative et ses dénominations en français, en anglais et en allemand. ” in : Beltran-Vidal, Danièle (Eds). Les mots de la santé (2). Lyon : Travaux du CRTT, 189-222.

Diederich, Catherine (2015). Sensory Adjectives in the Discourse of Food. A frame-semantic approach to language and perception. Amsterdam: Benjamins (= Converging Evidence in Language and Communication Research ; 16).

Digonnet, Rémi, Ed. (2018). Pour une linguistique sensorielle. Paris : Honoré Champion (=  Bibliothèque de grammaire et de linguistique ; 55).

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Gautier, Laurent (2018). “La sémantique des termes de dégustation peut-elle être autre chose qu’une sémantique expérientielle et expérimentale ? ” in : Verdier, Benoît / Parizot, Anne (Eds). Du Sens à l’Expérience : Gastronomie et Œnologie au prisme de leurs terminologies. Reims : EPURE, 343-358.

Gautier, Laurent (2019a). “La mutation des discours de découverte du vin à l'ère numérique. Les enseignements de Adwine entre saisie discursive et modélisation sémantique.” in  Stengel, Kilien / Gautier, Laurent (Eds). Découvrir le vin par les sens. Paris : L'Harmattan, in press (= Questions alimentaires et gastronomiques).

Gautier, Laurent (2019b). “La recherche en « langues-cultures-milieux » de spécialité au prisme de l’épaisseur socio-discursive.” in : Calderón, Marietta / Konzett-Firth, Carmen (Eds). Dynamische Approximationen. Festschriftliches pünktlichst zu Eva Lavrics 62,5. Geburtstag. Berlin;…: Peter Lang, in press (= Kontraste/Contrastes ; 3).

Gautier, Laurent / Lavric, Eva, Eds (2015). Unité et diversité dans les discours sur le vin en Europe. Berlin ;… : Peter Lang (= Inntrans ; 8).

Majid, Assifa / Burenhult, Niclas (2014). “Odors are expressible in language, as long as you speak the right language.” In : Cognition ; 130, 266-270.

Mancebo-Garcia, Mariele (2019).  Terminologie et discours au sein d’une filière viti-vinicole : le cas des Crémants de Bourgogne. PhD thesis in linguistics. Université de Bourgogne. France.

Temmerman, Rita / Dubois, Danièle, Eds  (2017). Expressing sensory experience in several languages. Amsterdam,…: Benjamins (= Terminology; 23/1).

Winter, Bodo (2019). Sensory Linguistics. Language, perception and metaphor. Amsterdam: Benjamins (= Converging Evidence in Language and Communication Research ; 20).

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