young female covering face with bouquet of flowers in dark room
Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on

Household and personal care: The scented word – Context, intrigue and the problem of olfactory literacy.

Harrison, M. (2010). The scented word: Context, intrigue and the problem of olfactory literacy. Household and Personal Care, Supplement. January,(1), 6-10.

ABSTRACT: The prevalence of published materials describing, advertising, criticizing, and/or discussing the olfactory realm – specifically concerning personal and household fragrance and as most recently evidenced by the rise in internet publications – emphasizes aroma’s popularity and is aiding in an exploration of the language with which olfactory experience is translated. In this paper I attempt to address the possibilities for a universal olfactive literacy through an examination of the English-language vocabulary, classification approaches, and rhetoric currently being used to communicate about olfaction. I conclude that like wine and cheese, a universal classification system is possible, albeit dubious because of both the numerous ideas about and culturally-influenced words used to describe and intrigue the consumer. However, internet sites are allowing for a new rhetorical exploration of olfaction and aroma via blogs and discussion boards thereby broadening awareness of olfactory language, popularizing commonly used terms, and aiding the development of a more universal olfactive literacy via the rich contextualizations used to discuss fragrance.