Session 10

Nowadays we judge status and wealth with cars and clothes – but how was it measured in the past? Today we find out why salt was so important.

ዛሬ ዛሬ የሰዎች የኑሮ እርከን እና ሀብት የምንፈርደው በመኪኖች እና በአልባሳት ነው። ድሮ ድሮ ግን እንዴት ነበር ይህ የሚመዘነው? ዛሬ ጨው ለምን በጣም አስፈላጊ እና ወሳኝ ቁስ እንደነበር እናያለን።

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

Why was salt so important?

People’s perception of salt has changed from the past to the present – so how has it changed and why?

ሰዎች ስለ ጨው ያላቸው ግንዛቤ ካለፈው አሁን ተቀይሯል። የተቀየረው እንዴት ነው? ለምን?

Before you listen

Consider the following question:

1) How do we measure wealth nowadays?
2) Do you think salt is a good or bad thing?
3) Why could salt have been important in the past?

Listen to the audio and take the quiz.

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ምህረተስላሴ
ጤና ይስጥልን፤ ይህ የእንግሊዘኛ ዜናዎችን ለመረዳት የሚያግዝዎትን ቋንቋ የሚማሩበት ሊስን ሂር ነው። ምህረተስላሴ እባላለሁ።

James
And I’m James! Hi everybody!

ምህረተስላሴ
ዛሬ የምናወራው ስለ ሀብት wealth እና ስለኑሮ እርከን status ነው። So James, how do people in the UK show their wealth or status?

James
Well, in many different ways! The clothes they wear, the cars they drive, the shops they visit or the size or location of their house. How about in your country?

ምህረተስላሴ
በኛም ሀገርም ቤትና መኪና የሀብት ማሳያ ናቸው። ዛሬ የምናዳምጠው በመዝገበ ቃላት ዙሪያ የሚሰሩ ባለሞያ ሱዚ ዴንት ባለፉት ዘመናት ጨው ከፍ ያለ የኑሮ እርከንን ለማሳየት ያገለግል እንደነበር ያብራራሉ። ይህ የተጀመረው መቼ ነው ይላሉ?

Insert
If you look in the Oxford English dictionary, there are just entry after entry after entry which clearly reflects how important it's  been. But it also became a great symbol of social wealth and social status. You’ll find this in medieval times right up to the 18th century.

ምህረተስላሴ
Wow, salt was important in medieval times?! But it’s so common nowadays!

James
That’s true! Salt was very expensive, and was therefore a way to show you were wealthy, that you could afford salt.

ምህረተስላሴ
Afford መግዛት መቻል ወይንም የመግዛት አቅም መኖር ማለት ነው። Let’s listen on - how was salt used to show people’s social status?

Insert
The rank of guests at a banquet for example was gauged by exactly where they sat in relation to a silver salt cellar that was placed on the table. The distinguished guests would sit at the head of the table, above the salt, and people who sat below the salt, furthest away from the host, were the ones who were least important.

James
So the closer to the salt that people were sat, the more important they were! Two common phrases we use in English because of this are above the salt and below the salt – meaning ‘important’ or ‘not important’.

ምህረተስላሴ
Above the salt ጠቃሚ ወይም ወሳኝ ማለት ነው። below the salt እርባና ቢስ ማለት ነው። Let’s keep listening to find more of these expressions.

Insert
If you look at Shakespeare, for example, you will find salt as a symbol of liveliness and freshness. So Shakespeare talks about the salt of youth.

ምህረተስላሴ
So someone who is lively የተነቃቃ and passionate ጥልቅ ፍቅር ያለው about their job for example has the salt of youth?

James
Exactly! Let’s listen for more.

Insert
And of course in the Bible you’ll find the salt of the earth, people who have great kindness and integrity.

ምህረተስላሴ
Salt of the earth ቅን kind እና ሃቀኝነት integrityያለውን ሰው የሚገልፅ ቃል ነው።

James
Yes! People who do things for others are the salt of the earth.

ምህረተስላሴ
So all of these phrases are very positive, which shows how important salt was to people in the past.

James
That’s right, but that seems strange! Nowadays, salt is something which people try to avoid. A salty diet is not very good for you.

ምህረተስላሴ
Has this changed the way that people use the word 'salt', James?

James
Yes, in fact it has! Let’s listen to the next part of the recording. What does the presenter say about how we think about salt nowadays?

Insert
But now, in modern times there’s been a shift in that, you know, we demonise it now as a bad thing.

Yes, actually in slang we might just be able to detect that downturn because salty now, in slang, means irritable really or hostile even.

James
The speaker says that we demonise salt. Demonise means to make something seem evil.

ምህረተስላሴ
Salty የሚለው ቃል aggressive ቁጡ ወይም bitter በምሬት የተሞላ ሰውን ይገልጻል።

James
That’s right – people’s attitudes to salt are now quite salty!

ምህረተስላሴ
Are there any other negative phrases with ‘salt’?

James
To rub salt in the wound means to make someone who is already sad or upset feel even worse.

ምህረተስላሴ
So if you were really hungry, and someone was eating a pizza in front of you, would that rub salt in the wound?

James
Yes! That would definitely rub salt in the wound!

ምህረተስላሴ
How about you? Do you have a salty attitude to salt? Are you salt of the earth? Here are some of the phrases we learnt today – above the salt ወሳኝ ወይንም ጠቃሚ ማለት ነው። below the salt እርባና ቢስ ማለት ነው። to rub salt in the wound ማለት የከፋውን ወይንም የተበሳጨን የበለጠ ማስቀየም ማለት ነው። the salt of youth ጥንካሬ እና ጥልቅ ፍቅር ያለውን ሰው ይገልጻል። Thanks for joining us and see you next week for more Listen Here!

Listen to today’s clip in full here

Source: The Food Programme

Language features


above/below the salt

To be above the salt means ‘to be important’. To be below the salt means ‘to be unimportant’.

In medieval times, lords used to sit above the salt.
In medieval times, servants used to sit below the salt.

the salt of youth
To have the salt of youth means 'to have vigour and passion'.

He has worked exceptionally hard on the project – he really has the salt of youth.

salt of the Earth
To be the salt of the Earth means 'someone is kind and has integrity'.

Peter always does his best to help his colleagues – he is the salt of the Earth.
 

to rub salt in the wound
To rub salt in the wound means 'to make someone who is already sad or upset even more sad or upset'.

Not only did Rob lose his job, but he also lost his house, which really rubbed salt in the wound.

Why was salt so important?

4 Questions

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ትክክለኛውን መልስ ይምረጡ

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Join us for our next episode of Listen Here, when we will learn more useful language and practise your listening skills.
ጠቃሚ የቋንቋ መሰረታዊያን ለመማር እና የማዳመጥ ክህሎትዎን በመለማመድ ለማዳበር በቀጣዩ ሊስን ሂር መሰናዷችን ይጠብቁን።

Session Vocabulary

  • wealth
    ሀብት

    wealthy
    ሀብታም

    status
    የኑሮ እርከን/ደረጃ

    medieval
    የመካከለኛው ዘመን

    afford
    የመግዛት አቅም መኖር

    passion
    ጥልቅ ፍቅር/ስሜት

    integrity
    ሃቀኝነት

    aggressive
    ነውጠኛ

    salty
    ጨዋማ