Are there any languages or dialects not distinguishing between taste and smell?

Possible duplicate of this older and much more general question.

  • English for one subsumes smell under taste, insofar taste is mostly perceived by the nose, except for the four or five basic tastes sour, salt, sweet, bitter (and umami/meat), as the common knowledge goes.
    – vectory
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 6:08
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    @vectory: Languages or dialects having only one word for both these senses.
    – Lucian
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 6:13
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    Mandarin uses the same word for smelling and hearing (闻 wén, although there’s also 听 tīng used only for hearing or listening), which isn’t quite the same but seems somehow related. Commented May 16, 2021 at 13:11
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: Etymological explanation.
    – Lucian
    Commented May 16, 2021 at 13:52
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    @JanusBahsJacquet Interesting! The same happens in the Slavic languages: en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/слышать where, in Russian, slyshat' is for hearing and, colloquially, for smelling, feeling a smell (more literary is chujat'), and very opposite case in Slovene, where čúti (cognate for chujat') & slíšati are both for hearing.
    – T1nts
    Commented May 18, 2021 at 7:46

1 Answer 1


The OHG form of the modern German schmecken "taste" could mean both "taste" and "smell". This is, as the Grimms note, still preserved in Upper German dialects; I have myself heard it being used for "smell" in Lungau, a southern part of Salzburg, where the dialect is somewhat in the middle between South and Middle Bavarian.

  • 1
    The anecdote is acually quite funny. I, non-dialect L1 Austrian German speaker, was talking to a farmer in Lungau about silo hay, and he told me "schmecks amal", whereupon I tasted a piece of hay, and he was rather perplexed about my reaction. Commented May 17, 2021 at 11:35
  • As a non-dialect L2 standard German speaker, I now feel silly. :-)
    – Lucian
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 17:20

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