Definition and Examples of Synaesthesia
Introduction to the term
Synaesthesia (derives from Greek syn “with” and aesthesis “sensation,” literally “the union of senses”) is broadly established as a condition of human sensory systemsOpens in new window that subsists when a person receives a stimulusOpens in new window in one sensory attribute and experience a sensationOpens in new window in another; which as a result, colours may be perceived as smells, smells as sounds, sounds as tastes etc.
As a rhetorical device, Synaesthesia consists in the stimulation of one sense that arouses a mental impressionOpens in new window associated with a different sense; or the combined use of two or more words that appeals to two different sensory receptors (attributes).
Synaesthesia is widely employed in the literature, although there seem to be rules or norms guiding its application, especially in the aspect of what sensory attributes are compatible and worthy of being paired together.
When we speak of a musician striking a “blue note” while playing a sad song, or when we speak of a certain shade of color as a “cool green”, or perhaps when speaking of a “heavy silence”, we are merely engaging this device into use. Poetic writers of all epoch including the likes of HomerOpens in new window, AeschylusOpens in new window, ShelleyOpens in new window, ByronOpens in new window, etc., all were (are) advocates of synaesthesia, and like to use this artful device to make the intersensonsory description.