30 Apr 2013

What is Sensory Language?

What is sensory langauge?
It’s description that appeals to the five senses in a noticeable way.
e.g.
Images flashed at the front of the room: smashed up forests smouldering, hillsides washed away in swirling brown mud, seabirds flapping in oil, flames sweeping across deserts, belching blots of thick black smoke.
e.g.
The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of overshadowed distances. On silvery sandbanks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side.


When should I comment on this kind of description?
When there's a noticeable ‘clump’ using more than one of the five senses, e.g. sight (colour, light), texture (jagged, smooth, waxy etc), smells, tastes (bitter).

Why do writers use it?
Sensory language creates mood and puts a vivid picture in the reader’s mind.

Why should I comment on this?
It lets you score marks! It’s a great thing to pick out for questions like ‘how do writers create mood and atmosphere’ - usually in a description of a place - or ‘how does the writer create a vivid sense of place?’

Sensory language can also be linked to:

How can I write about Sensory language and all these other techniques at the same time?

Example ONE

Sensory language describes the shift from ‘powdered’ to ‘half melted’ and ‘solid again’. This creates a sense of things shifting, vague and ‘blurred’ and creates the sensation of old age. The present tense adds to the confused but vivid sensations.
The blurred sensory language gives way to brief flashes of reality in the poem: the window seems ‘full strong’ and ‘so square’ and ‘so same’.

Example TWO
In the final stanza, there is a shift in the metaphor - ‘a door in the mind blows open’ and sensory language about cold for her, is nostalgic. It brings her straight back home.

Find resources and essays for all GCSE and A-Level set texts, including Shakespeare and poetry
The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.