A strange smell had invaded my apartment. It was sour and pungent like rotting meat. Or maybe it was more like old fish. It was kind of like both of those things with a hint of spoiled milk. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, blame the English language. It's not just me; it's very difficult to describe scents in English. It's hard to do in German and Dutch and French, too.
So why aren't Westerners good at naming scents?
For decades, scientists thought perhaps smell was a diminished human sense and less valuable than other senses — like our glorious eyesight.