origin of the word “salary”
Posted: 30 April 2007 05:48 AM   [ Ignore ]
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what is the origin of the word “salary”?

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Posted: 30 April 2007 06:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Salt

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Posted: 07 May 2007 06:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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lasermeat - 30 April 2007 05:48 AM

what is the origin of the word “salary”?

in olden days from the roman sodiers allowance of salt, latin word was salarium

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Posted: 07 May 2007 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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"Allowance for salt” would be better phrased.  There is a persistent myth that Roman soldiers were paid with salt.  For a detailed discussion, see this earlier thread, which supports and supplements the information in Oeco’s link.

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Posted: 08 May 2007 04:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It goes back to a Latin word that originally denoted an ‘allowance given to Roman soldiers for buying salt’ (salt being in former times a valued commodity, over which wars were fought, rather than taken for granted as it is today). This was salarium, a derivative of sal ‘salt.’ It soon broadened out to mean ‘fixed periodic payment for work done,’ and passed in this sense via Old French salaire and then Anglo-Norman salarie into English.

From Oecolampidius’s link. What wars were fought over salt? Salt would have been a valued commodity in inland areas, but as Dr.T suggests in the earlier thread, anybody along any coast could have derived salt at any time, unless it was illegal. As an aside, the word marinate seems to indicate it was normal practice to soak food in saltwater.

Here’s another question: salt is necessary to sustain life, but was it used mainly to enhance flavor or is it impossible to derive enough salt from a standard diet without supplement?

For example, selenium is also necessary for the body, but in parts of northern California the soil is deficient in selenium whereas in southern California there is an excess thereof. Hay and alfalfa grown in respective regions reflect either the surplus or deficiency so farmers have to be careful to balance fodder from both regions. (Or so I’m told.) Livestock can die from selenium depletion or excess. Civilizations such as Mesopotamia are thought to have perished because of a buildup of selenium due to irrigation practices (i.e. too much selenium) entailing insufficient drainage and leaching of the soil.

It seems unlikely that 5,000 or more years ago the inhabitants of the vast reaches of the inland continents depended on a salt trade for their existence.

[ Edited: 08 May 2007 05:04 AM by foolscap ]
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Posted: 08 May 2007 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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It is obvious from ancient accounts that the salt trade was very important:  see The silent trade for Herodotus’s description of the “Silent Trade”, the trading of salt for gold.

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Posted: 08 May 2007 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Here’s another question: salt is necessary to sustain life, but was it used mainly to enhance flavor or is it impossible to derive enough salt from a standard diet without supplement?

Salt was valued mainly for it’s use in the preservation of food and being able to preserve your food definitely enhances your ability to do things like survive bad times and feed soldiers on the move.

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Posted: 08 May 2007 08:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Not to deny the importance of the salt trade in ancient times, but people living far inland would not necessarily be dependent on it.  Salt from oceans of previous geological eras can be found underground and mined (referred to in the Herodotus excerpt) and is sometimes exposed on the surface in the form of natural salt licks (an indicator of where to mine.) If you in a region where these were available, you wouldn’t have to depend on the salt trade (and if you didn’t, the salt you imported might come from such a region, rather than from a coastal area).

The city of Detroit, which is far from any present-day ocean, lies over vast deposits of salt.

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Posted: 08 May 2007 03:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Salt was valued mainly for it’s use in the preservation of food and being able to preserve your food definitely enhances your ability to do things like survive bad times and feed soldiers on the move.

Makes perfect sense and should have been obvious. The Romans needed it to engage in protracted warfare, much like the British navy of centuries past with their salt beef and salt pork. Also, desert dwellers would have been more dependent on salt than northerners because they probably didn’t cure meat in a smokehouse due to lack of fuel, they didn’t have freezing temperatures in the winter time, and no matter how well adapted to the heat they would have had a more accelerated loss of salt from the body. Even today fish is preserved rather well in places like Portugal simply by the additon of salt while drying.

Michael Palin has a pretty poignant story of filming one of his tour shows in an Arabic country. A local family wanted entertain him over the course of days so they slaughtered a camel (so he said!) and fed him on it for four evenings. The first meal was delicious, but by the fourth night he was gritting his teeth to smile while he ate the somewhat fetid meat.

[ Edited: 08 May 2007 09:23 PM by foolscap ]
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Posted: 08 May 2007 11:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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”..but by the fourth night he was gritting his teeth to smile while he ate the somewhat fetid meat.”
Likely “fetid” to his taste, but not to the locals who would be accustomed to the flavor.
In my travels in Africa I ate plenty of camel in Somalia. Often the meat had been prepared days before and was a bit “off”, but was usually cooked with lots of seasonings so it was very tasty! Camel meat is similar to horsemeat , rather tough and grainy, not to mention a lot more “gamey” than a Westerner might be accustomed to.

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