Seminar: Exploring Changes in Sensory Descriptions Over Time: A Frame-Based Approach to the Study of Smelling and Tasting • 27 February 2024

Event organised by the Computational Humanities research group.

To register to the seminar, please fill in this form by Tuesday 20 February 2024.

27 February 2024 – 3pm GMT

In person – King’s College London

Remote – Via Microsoft Teams

Teresa Paccosi (University of Trento / Fondazione Bruno Kessler), Exploring Changes in Sensory Descriptions Over Time: A Frame-Based Approach to the Study of Smelling and Tasting


The world in which we live is mediated by our senses, so it is not surprising that every language has specialized words to describe our perceptual experience. Previous research has revealed a dominance of sight in the usage of sensory words and in the composition of the sensory lexicon in Western European languages. This often results in taste and smell being expressed with a more limited vocabulary in these languages. Existing works on olfactory and gustatory language focus on contemporary language and the specific words employed in these sensory vocabularies. This seminar aims to offer a quantitative exploration of the evolution of English olfactory and gustatory language over time, adopting a FrameNet-like approach for the analysis of sensory descriptions in textual data. The frame-based approach is designed to effectively capture sensory events, i.e., more complex structures involving different participants, rather than focusing solely on the occurrences of single terms in texts. This approach serves as the basis for a system for the automatic extraction of gustatory references from texts. During the seminar, a preliminary version of this system will be presented.


Teresa Paccosi is a PhD student in Cognitive Science at the University of Trento, holding a scholarship funded by the Digital Humanities group of Fondazione Bruno Kessler. The primary focus of her PhD project is the examination of sensory descriptions in textual data and how their linguistic encoding has evolved over time. Throughout her PhD, she actively collaborated within the H20 project ‘Odeuropa’. The goal of the project is to demonstrate that critically engaging with our sense of smell and exploring our scent heritage is an important and viable means of connecting and promoting Europe’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

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