This repost is from Thursday 24th May 2007. If you like it, you can check out more about my book Logomania that is on sale now. (talk about sneak advertising, huh?)
The Star has published my latest Logomania column: Salty Language an article discussing origin and use of phrases such as To take something with a pinch of salt, To rub salt into the wound, To be worth one’s salt and more.
Comments, brickbats, comments on where to find better etymological sources etc welcome...
The guy on the far left is Ferdinand Magellan, the old salt who set off to sail around the world. He was the first person to lead an expedition sailing westward from Europe to Asia and to cross the Pacific Ocean but he died in the Philippines in 1521 but his crew made it back under the charge of Juan Sebastián Elcano, the man with the fancy feathery hat.
I like sailing but the idea of setting off across an unknown (and possibly unending!) ocean with just a packet of biscuits and a motley crew is not my cup of tea.
If you're interested in reading more than the Wikipedia articles linked to above, a good start is Eyewitness History.
PS The Magellan pic is an anonymous work of art from 16th or 17th century now part of The Mariner's Museum Collection, USA and the Elcano pic is a line drawing by J. Donon in 1854, now part of the Royal Spanish Navy collection (Historia de la Marina Real Española).