Sausage. Salsa. Salami. And how salt, food, history and language travelled around the world.
History is full of instances of salty language.
Salt played an important part in the history of food and cooking. Until we invented new technologies to keep our foods from spoiling, using salt was the primary way to preserve food.
As a result, Stanford professor of linguistics and computer science, Dan Jurafsky shares in his book that salt is “pervasive in our language”, as many foods “all come originally from the Latin word sal and originally meant exactly the same thing: ‘salted'”.
These include sauces, salsa, salami, and sausages. For example
“The word sauce in French and salsa in Spanish, Provencal, and Italian… come from popular Latin salsus/salsa, referring to the salty seasonings that made food delicious…
… [and] it’s there in the Italian salami and salumi, both formed from the root sal (salt).. And it’s there in the word sausage, which we got from French, from late Latin salsīcia, originally from the phrases salsa isicia… [which was a] dried salted preserved version of this sausage” (Source: The Language of Food)
These words and foods (and the salt in them) continue to be very much a part of our cuisines today (and many of our taste buds are pleased about that!).
Moreover, while we no longer use salt as pervasively to preserve foods, salt plays other equally important roles in modern food and cooking. With salt, we can season our dishes, make roast chicken crispier, make vegetables look greener , and even make fruits taste sweeter (read all about these in these 1-Minute NomNoms!)!
The Latin word for salt, sal, also gave birth to the word “salary”, demonstrating further how pervasive salt was in language, but also how pervasive it was in the daily life in history. Find out more in the 1-Minute NomNom “Worth our weight in salt“!
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photos: in order – depositphotos/gbh007; frankix; timolina; Kesu01; belchonock