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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!
ኣብዚ እዋን ንዋትን መንኪና ዝውንኑ ሃብቲን ማሕበራዊ ደረጃን ከም ዘሎዎም ጌርና ንወስዶም። እዚ ግን ቀደም ብኸመይ ይዕቀን ነይሩ። ንሎሚ ብኸመይ ጨው ኣገዳሲ ከም ዝነበረ ክንርኢ ኢና።

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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?
ኣረኣእያ ሰባት ኣብ ጨው ካብ ቀደም ኣብዚ እዋን ተቀዩሩ’ዩ። እዚ ብኸመይ ክቕየር ክኢሉ?

Before you listen

Consider the following question:

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

Listen to the audio and take the quiz.

Show transcript Hide transcript

ሰላም፡ እንቋዕ ናብዚ ብእንግዝኛ ዝቐርብ ሓቀኛ ዛንታት ሰሚዕኩም ንክትርድኡ ዝሕግዘኩም መደብ Listen Here ብደሓን  መጻእኩም። ኣነ ተክለማርያም በኪት ኢየ።

And I’m James! Hi everybody!

ሎሚ ብዛዕባ wealth ሃብቲ ከምኡውን status ማሕበራዊ ደረጃ ክንዛረብ ኢና። So James, how do people in the UK show their wealth or status?

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?

ኣብ ሃገርና ብወርቅን ጨርቅን መንኪና ብምግዛእን ገዛ ብምውናን ሃብቶም የንጸባርቁ።

ኣብ ቀዳማይ ክፋል ናይ ሎሚ መደብና፡ ኣዳላዊት መዝገብ-ቓላት ዝነበረት ደዚይ ደንት፡ ቀደም  ጨው ብኸመይ ንማሕበራዊ ደረጃ የንጸባርቕ ከም ዝነበረ ክትገልጽ እንከላ ንሰማዕ። መዓስ ተጀሚሩ ትብል።

If you look in the Oxford English dictionary, there are just entry after entry which clearly reflects how important it (salt) has 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.

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

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

Afford ማለት ዓቕሚ ገንዘብ ዘለዎ ማለት ኢዩ።Let’s listen on - how was salt used to show people’s social status?

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.

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’.

Above the salt ማለት ዝለዓለ ክብሪ ዘለዎም ሰባት ማለት ኢዩ። , below the salt ተራ ኣባል ማሕበረሰብ ማለት ኢዩ።Let’s keep listening to find more of these expressions.

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

So someone who is lively,ሕጉስ ከምኡ’ውንpassionate,ርሱን ስምዒት ዘሎዎ,about their job for example has the salt of youth?

Exactly! Let’s listen for more.

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

Salt of the earth ንሓደ kind ርሕሩሕ ከምኡ’ውን integrity ቅኑዕ ሰብ ይገልጽ።

Yes! People who do things for others are the salt of the earth. But that seems strange! Nowadays, salt is something which people try to avoid. A salty diet is not very good for you.

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

But now, 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.

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

ማለት ንሓደ aggressive ህውከተኛ ወይ bitter መሪር ሰብ ትገልጽ። So, have the phrases we use with salt changed with people’s opinions?

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

Are there any other negative phrases with ‘salt’?

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

To rub salt in the wound ንዘሎ ጸገም ካብቲ ዘለዎ ንላዕሊ ዝገደደ ምግባር ማለት ኢዩ። ጠሚኹም እንከሎኹም፡ ሓደ ሰብ ኣብ ቅድመኹም ፒዛ እንተበሊዑ፡ ነቲ ዘሎ ጸገም ካብቲ ዘለዎ ንላዕሊ ይግድዶ ማለት ድዩ?

Yes! That would definitely rub salt in the wound! It would just make me even more hungry!

How about you? Do you have a salty attitude to salt? Are you salt of the earth? Here are some other phrases we learnt today – above the saltዝለዓለ ክብሪ ዘለዎም ሰባት፥ below the saltተራ ኣባል ማሕበረሰብ ማለት ኢዩ። To rub salt in the woundንዘሎ ጸገም ካብቲ ዘለዎ ንላዕሊ ዝገደደ ምግባር ማለት ኢዩ። ከምኡ’ውንThe salt of youthንሓደ ሓይሊን ብርቱዕ ስምዒት ዘለዎ ሰብ ይገልጽ።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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ቕኑዕ መልሲ ምረጹ።

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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.
ኣብ ዝቕጽል መደብ Listen Here ኣገደስቲ ናይ ኢንግሊዝኛ ዝርርብን ናይ ምስማዕ ክእለትኩም እተመሐይሹሉ መደብ ሒዝናልኩም ክንቀርብ ኢና’ሞ ብሰላም የራኽበና።

Session Vocabulary

  • wealth

    ሃብታም/በዓል ጸጋ

    ማሕበራዊ ደረጃ

    ማእከላእ ዘመን

    ዓቕሚ ገንዘብ ዘለዎ

    ብርቱዕ ስምዒት