Rare condition makes man taste words
London, 6 September 2001

James Wannerton has a rare condition which makes him taste the words he hears or reads.

The 42-year-old from Blackpool tastes Rice Krispies when someone says 'motorcycle' and garibaldi biscuits when the word 'key' is used.

He eats sweets and drinks a lot to help him combat the condition, which is known as synaesthesia.

He told The Mirror: "I used to think it was normal to associate words with taste and thought everyone had it.

"When I recited the Lord's Prayer at school it used to bring all kinds of flavours into my mouth. For instance, the word 'trespass' tastes of bacon.

"I've chosen and dumped girlfriends because of how their names tasted. The name Tracy tastes of flaky pastry. But the name of my current girlfriend, Jannette, is neutral and doesn't taste of anything."

He added: "Few doctors have heard of synaesthesia. Even if they have, they can't help me. There's no cure."

Ellis Douek, a sense expert from Guy's Hospital, London, said: "We don't understand synaesthesia very well.

"It's very rare but could be linked with memory. These people have an extra link between the brain and taste or smell. Unfortunately, it's not possible to say why it happens and no-one knows which part of the brain is affected."






Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles