Jahai (Jehai) is an aboriginal Mon–Khmer language spoken by the Jahai people living in the montane rainforests of northern Peninsular Malaysia and southernmost Thailand. It is the largest Northern Aslian language. Though spoken by only a little more than 1,000 people, Jahai does not appear to be in immediate danger of extinction due to the prevalence of Jahai parents passing on the language to their children as their mother tongue.
Jahai has a unique vocabulary for describing odors.
Odor terms in Jahai are based on abstract qualities rather than specific sources (which is more common cross-linguistically, particularly in European languages).
||Examples of sources
||'to smell edible, tasty'
||cooked food, sweets
||'to smell roasted'
||'to be fragrant'
||various flowers, perfumes, soap
||Malay loan; original Malay meaning 'fragrant'
||'to be fragrant'
||various flowers, perfumes, bearcat
||feces, rotten meat, prawn paste
||'to be musty'
||old dwellings, mushrooms, stale food
||'to have a stinging smell'
||petrol, smoke, bat droppings
||'to have a smell of human urine'
||human urine, village ground
||'to have a urine-like smell'
||Malay loan; original Malay meaning 'foul odor, stench'
||'to have a blood/fish/meat-like smell'
||blood, raw fish, raw meat
||'to have a bloody smell which attracts tigers'
||crushed head lice, squirrel blood
- ^ a b Jahai at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- ^ Burenhult, Niclas (2005). A Grammar of Jahai (PDF). Pacific Linguistics 566. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University. doi:10.15144/pl-566. hdl:1885/146729. ISBN 0-85883-554-1.
- ^ a b Majid, Asifa; Burenhult, Niclas (2014). "Odors are expressible in language, as long as you speak the right language". Cognition. 130 (2): 266–270. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2013.11.004. hdl:11858/00-001M-0000-0014-9D63-D. ISSN 0010-0277. PMID 24355816. S2CID 16257849.
- ^ Majid, Asifa; Burenhult, Niclas; Stensmyr, Marcus; de Valk, Josje; Hansson, Bill S. (2018). "Olfactory language and abstraction across cultures". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 373 (1752): 20170139. doi:10.1098/rstb.2017.0139. ISSN 0962-8436. PMC 6015838. PMID 29915007.