Well, there are some folks on earth who might be experiencing a heavenly ability now. They enjoy–or suffer from–lexical-gustatory synaesthesia. What is that? Okay, class, study the words. “Lexical” has to do with being derived from words; “gustatory” usually applies to food or digestion. And “syn” has to do with absorbing, while we see “thesia” in a process.
If you have lexical-gustatory synaesthesia, you can actually taste words. These people taste specific flavors when they hear certain words or even try to recall them, says Julia Simner, a cognitive neuropsychologist at the University of Edinburgh. Her study, “Words on the Tip of the Tongue” was published in Nature last month. (I’d have called it, “You’ll Wish You Could Eat Those Words!”)
According to the article I read, magnetic-resonance imaging proves that these folks aren’t faking–and the experience can be unpleasant. One subject hates driving because road signs flood his mouth with every taste from pistachio ice cream to ear wax. And Simner has yet to figure out any logical pattern. For example, the word “mince” makes one subject taste mincemeat, but so do rhymes like “prince.” Words with a soft “g” as in “roger” or “edge,” make him taste sausage. But another subject, hearing “castanets,” tastes tuna fish. Another can taste only proper names. “John” means cornbread for him; “William” tastes like potatoes.
No one can explain the mystery–the flavors are just there.
Gives new meaning to the proverb about a word fitly spoken being like golden apples, doesn’t it?