Meet the man who says he has an extraordinary condition which means he can taste words
Most of the time, when people use the expression "eat your words," they don't mean for it to be taken literally. However, for 29-year-old social media manager Dave Evans, this common idiom is a reality. Because Dave has a secret power: one that can turn an English dictionary into a veritable Jacobean banquet. Dave has the power to taste words.
He was born with a rare sensory condition known as 'lexical-gustatory synesthesia', which means that he can taste or smell food when he hears certain words. To Dave, words like "elixir" conjure up sour cherries, while "east" makes him picture cornflakes, and "homogenous" puts him in mind of cheese.
Dave first noticed his uncanny ability in early childhood; but when he mentioned to friends and family that he could taste words, he was either ridiculed or ignored, which convinced him to keep quiet about it. At first he attributed his condition to his own vivid imagination, but as he became an adult, the tastes he was experiencing when hearing certain words became overwhelming.
In a recent interview, Dave stated: "I started tasting words in primary school. Back then, I thought everyone else did, too. When I asked my friends if they could taste words, though, they had no idea where I was coming from. I came across someone’s page on the site My Space, who had written about having lexical-gustatory synaesthesia. It sounded exactly like me, so, again I started asking people if they ever tasted different foods when random words were said. But they all thought I was either on drugs, or talking rubbish."
Dave hasn't yet been diagnosed by a doctor, because his condition is so rare that, according to the MULTISENSE Synaesthesia Laboratory at the University of Sussex, lexical-gustatory synaesthesia affects less than one in 500 people. However, Dave has matched his symptoms with other people he found online, and is convinced that he now knows the root cause.
He added: "Reading online definitions, it’s clear I have lexical-gustatory synaesthesia. Still, as it doesn’t impact my life too much, I don’t see any need to go to the doctor, or get an official diagnosis. People think I’m crazy, as I will sometimes wince when I hear certain words which taste horrible. Words like ‘conglomerate’ – which I don’t say or hear very much – but taste like sand, for example. The word ‘marble’ tastes like chocolate sauce, but, sadly, I don’t hear that very often either."
Unfortunately, a lot of people still dismiss Dave's claims about edible words and suchlike. "I don’t like telling people about my synaesthesia, because they think I’m making it up, or that I’m just really weird. Even my parents think I’m being odd." Well personally I believe Dave really is telling the truth about his superpowers ... I just wouldn't expect an invitation to join the X-Men anytime soon.