Ell Wilding

Ell Wilding

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: How does sensory experience affect the way people use and understand synaesthetic metaphor?
Supervisors: Professor Jeannette Littlemore , Dr Marcus Perlman and Dr Bodo Winter
MA Social Research / to be followed by PhD English Language and Applied Linguistics


  • BA English Language and Philosophy JH
  • MA Applied Linguistics


Synaesthesia is a rare neurological condition where one sense involuntarily stimulates another, e.g. seeing colours when hearing sounds. However, synaesthetic metaphors, which describe experience in one sensory modality through another, are commonly used in cross-modal expressions like sharp cheese, loud shirt, and sweet melody. Existing research on synaesthetic metaphor (Ullman, 1945; Williams, 1976; Evans and Wilkins, 2000; Littlemore, 2019; Winter, 2019) mainly focuses on language in sighted, hearing, neurotypical people. However, as sensory language is one of the most direct ways in which people share their experiences, it is important to conduct research using non-normative participants. This project will investigate how the sensory experience of blind, deaf, or synaesthetic individuals affects the way they understand and use sensory language. It will tackle one of the most important hypotheses within the emerging field of sensory linguistics: are differences in a person’s sensory experience reflected in differences in language use? How does a person’s felt, physical experience influence the way they communicate?