Conceptual Metaphors and the Smell Perception in English and Arabic

Salha Mohammed Alqarni


Perception has long been seen as a basis for understanding abstract concepts and experiences and their linguistic encoding. Conceptual metaphor is considered a cognitive link between physical and sensory experiences and abstract mental representations. The olfactory perception has been treated as peripherical in contrast to other sense modalities. The purpose of the study is to establish how the smell sense is conceptually structured in Arabic in comparison with English and to examine conceptual metaphors based on our olfactory perception. Using the theory of conceptual metaphor, the study sought to compare the conception of smell and its metaphorical extensions in both languages. The data collected for this study was Modern written Standard Arabic acquired from online Arabic corpora and the total number of sentences searched is 3400 sentences. The study demonstrated that smell is used as a source domain to express suspicion, knowledge, and emotions. Arabic expresses a few extra metaphors including experiencing and anticipating. The domain of emotions in Arabic is closely connected to the smell sense more than English is. On the other hand, the most prevalent conceptual metaphors that employ smell as their target domain are INTENSITY OF SMELL IS EFFECT STRENGTH and SMELL IS A PHYSICAL FORCE, which exist in both languages equally. Besides, the study demonstrated that the sense of smell is not peripheral to cognition as it was previously believed. It is hoped that this study has contributed to further appreciation of the smell domain and its function in cognition.

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2022 Mohammed Mohammed Alqarni

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

Copyright © Macrothink Institute ISSN 1948-5425

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.