Monday, November 27, 2006

Some People Can Literally Taste Words

It sounds absurd, but it's true. People know as "lexical-gustatory synaesthetes" experience tastes when they hear or see certain words, reported the NY Times. For example, one person tastes tuna fish when the word "castanets" is uttered, and another tastes gravy when the word "civil" comes up.

Less strange, but bizarre still, are synaesthetes that experience music, letters or numbers as colors. For example, when you hear a specific note, you "see" a color. Such rare neurological disorders are extremely rare and run in families.

While I could personally live with hearing notes and seeing colors, the hearing words and tasting flavors would be tough. Imagine, friends, family and colleagues would need to have a list of words they can not say (yes, some words may trigger pleasant flavors, but others may set off disgusting ones).

But what happens when you're out in public, or driving your car? Accordgin to the Times, one synaesthete "hates driving because road signs flood his mouth with the flavors of things like pistachio ice cream and earwax."

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