What do we know about salt from the linguistic perspective and in general?
According to Oxford Dictionary the origin of the word “salt” can be traced to:
“Old English sealt (noun), sealtan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zout and German Salz (nouns), from an Indo-European root shared by Latin sal, Greek hals ‘salt'” (OD, 2016).
Different words have been derived from this word: salad, sauce, salami, etc. Interestingly, the word “salary” is also derived from the word “salt” – it came to English through Old French from the Latin word “salarium“. A salarium was Roman soldiers’ allowance to buy salt.
Salt is also used in numerous phraseology units such as “salt of the earth“. This particular phraseological unit comes from the Bible:
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house (Matt. 5:13-15, NKJV).
Originally this was said by Jesus Christ about His disciples. Now the expression “salt of the earth” is used to describe people who have “flavour”, i.e. who have such qualities as sincere kindness, humility, ability and willingness to support, respect, positive attitude, faith, hope, and love.
The word “salt” can be used in different expressions in different languages.In French, for example, the colour of hair can be “salt and pepper” (sel et poivre) meaning grey/white-haired.
What do people do with salt across cultures? Well, a lot of things, there are hundreds of uses of this product. It can be used to improve taste of products, as a natural preservative to keep food fresh longer, or as a treatment against illnesses for cattle. Did you know that salt in combination with water can also be used as a source of energy? The video below speaks about this and other uses of salt and its importance:
Video credit: Documentary Hd, “How Stuff Works Salt Discovery Channel BBC Documentary Full Documentary” September 25, 2014, via YouTube.
How is the word “salt” used in your language? How is salt used in your culture? Please share in the comment section below.
Oxford Dictionaries (OD) (2016). Retrieved July 10, 2016, from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com