Why is the symbol of miners and steelmakers, whose day was recently celebrated in Banská Štiavnica, a salamander? People usually think of a salamander as a shiny black lizard with yellow spots
along its back. The name is of Eastern origin, but the ancient Greeks understood it as a "fire lizard", developing the idea of a mythical creature which was born and could live in fire. First of
all there's the dark skin with flashes of yellow or orange on it, looking like flames. Then there's the salamander's tendency to live in hollow logs, so when people put a log on the fire, sometimes
a salamander might escape from it, apparently coming "out of the fire". Miners used fire in the past to soften up the rocks containing ore (ruda), and fire is essential for making metals, so the
"fire lizard" is a logical choice as a symbol.
Tricky Words in this week's OVI
How are people's achievements acknowledged (ocenené)? If you win the tombola at an event, you get a prize (vecná cena), but if you achieve something at a higher level (let's say ethical, because it
involves some special behavior), you can receive an award (ocenenie). Actors may be awarded an Oscar, and musicians a Grammy, for example. People who perform some employment or service often get a
badge (odznak) to wear that indicates what they do, such as a soldier's, firefighter's or security staff badge, and managers can wear a lapel badge or pin (more discreet). These are called
insignia. But if somebody performs their employment or service at a higher than normal level, with merit (zásluha) or distinction (vyznamenanie), they can receive a badge of honor or a decoration
(another sense of vyznamenanie), usually in the form of a medal. These include military, civilian and Olympic medals.