basic words for taste (fwd)

Max Wheeler maxw at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Thu Apr 23 11:29:28 UTC 1998

Bingfu asks about taste words:

> 	English seems to have the following
> basic words for taste:
> sweet, bitter, sour, salty, hot (chilli).

And Frans Plank remarks that 'salty' is not basic. By a similar criterion
'hot' is not basic either, but a transparent metaphor. However, for me,
'savoury' is a basic taste word, with approximately the sense of 'salty'. For
my wife (and others, I believe) 'bitter' and 'sour' are synonyms, at least in
certain contexts --she uses `sour' only for substances like e.g. milk which
have gone off, not for fruit-acid type flavours (which is what I associate
with `sour' in, e.g. sweet and sour pork) which she calls `bitter'. For me
a taste can be both `bitter' and `sour', paradigm example: bitter lemon drink.

Max Wheeler


Max W. Wheeler <maxw at>
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QH, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1273 678975; fax: +44 (0)1273 671320

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list