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The sense of smell has widely been viewed as inferior to the other senses. This is reflected in the lack of treatment of olfaction in ethnographies and linguistic descriptions. We present novel data from the olfactory lexicon of Seri, a language isolate of Mexico, which sheds new light onto the possibilities for olfactory terminologies. We also present the Seri smellscape, highlighting the cultural significance of odors in Seri culture that, along with the olfactory language, is now under threat as globalization takes hold and traditional ways of life are transformed.

Original publication




Journal article


Anthropological Linguistics

Publication Date





107 - 131