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Sensory Language: Definition and Examples

Sensory Language: Definition and Examples

A very effective way for writers to capture the attention of their readers is through the use of sensory language. Let's take a look at the sensory language definition and how it makes 'more sense' to the readers.
Anup Patwardhan
Imagery is used extensively by writers as it contributes a long way by adding intricate details to a scene. Use of sensory language is one way of adding imagery to your writing. It is the representation of the objects, actions, or ideas which appeal to the human senses.
Writers must be able to use the words that demonstrate a feeling so as to tempt the imagination of the audience. They have to feed on the hunger, that the readers have to lap up more of what they have to say. This would help in engaging the audience.

Using sensory language in an article or a novel will add layers of depth to it. It has the ability to spike the interest of readers and this compels them to continue reading further and they remain involved in the story right through the end. If the readers are hooked to the story, then that makes the writer's efforts worthwhile. To master this style, however, requires investment of both time and effort.

Sensory narration helps the reader visualize the scenes and live through them. They are thus provided a first-hand experience of being a part of the story. Authors can thus infuse life in their piece of writing by means of this tool. It will make their artwork more lively while also giving it a touch of reality.

What is Sensory Language?

The language through which the writers incorporate the five senses in their writing is known as a sensory language. The five senses of a reader that the writer has to serve through his writings are sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Among the above mentioned five senses, all of them have equal importance, from a writer's point of view and, well, otherwise too. Enabling these senses of a reader will help the writers in making their creations more appealing, lively as well as easy to understand.

Through this form of writing, a writer can develop a connection with the audience. If the writer is able to do that, then, it will result in the readers being emotionally involved in the story and be able to relate with the characters in it. Hence its use is evident in novels. The vocabulary used in the description needs to be very specific to create the right mood as per the genre. Here are a few examples of words that will be helpful in capturing the imagination of each of the five senses.

Sight   Sound Touch Smell  Taste
Rocky   Ticking Thick Scented  Acidic
Hairy    Hissing Tender Musky Garlicky
Drenched     Cracking Smooth Pungent Tangy
Oily   Quiet Glassy Medicinal  Sweet
Boiling    Jangling Moist Earthy Salty
Tangled Barking Metallic   Flowery Lemony
Furry    Gasping Scorching Fruity Bitter
Burning    Buzzing Scalding Minty Burnt

Now, novels are not the only creation where this methodology has been used. Many poets have also resorted to the use of this technique in their poems. This helps the audience to get a better understanding of the poem. The sensory language examples in poetry include Prelude and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock  by T.S. Eliot, Summer Night by Alfred Tennyson, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud  by William Wordsworth, and To Autumn by John Keats.

Similarly, there are sensory language examples in literature as well. These include I Know Why a Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Once More to the Lake by E.B. White, and The Great Expectations  by Charles Dickens.

Given below is an example that shows us the use of sensory language in the poem Wind  by Ted Hughes.

This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet

Till day rose; then under an orange sky
The hills had new places, and wind wielded
Blade-light, luminous black and emerald,
Flexing like the lens of a mad eye.

Sensory description thus helps the writer transform a cold speech into a colorful painting that displays more than one perceptible form, and that too with the help of simple, tasteful words.