Figures and the senses
Towards a definition of synaesthesia
It is usually taken for granted that synaesthesia (e.g., sweet voice) is a metaphor. However, the fact that partly different interpretations have also been proposed suggests that further research is needed. Based on a critical review of the alternative positions on the topic and on a detailed analysis of relevant data, I argue in this paper that synaesthesia (in both its conventional and living instances) is indeed a metaphor, displaying a conflict between separate sensory concepts that cannot be connected in terms of a consistent conceptual relationship. The clearer and more explicit account of synaesthesia proposed in this paper in turn fosters clearer understanding of (a) the relationship with other figures that can involve the senses, such as metonymy, hypallage, and simile, and (b) the possible role of (multi)sensory perceptual experience in conditioning association preferences in linguistic synaesthesia (e.g., loud colour vs. a less likely to occur coloured loudness).
Keywords: synaesthesia, perception, metaphor, metonymy, hypallage, simile
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