Perfume: Making a Good Smell



Vetiver Aromatics, via Flickr

Joshua Leo and Liz Waid look at perfume. They look at the history of these wonderful smelling substances, and a story about their importance.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Joshua Leo.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand - no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Leon and Loralee Wright were walking by the sea in Streaky Bay, Australia. Then, they saw something strange. A big grey object was lying by the sea. What was it? It looked a bit like a stone. But it felt like hard fat. Loralee decided to take the object to scientists. They told her she had found ambergris.

Voice 2 

Ambergris is waste material from the inside of a whale. These huge animals live in the ocean. Whales expel the ambergris from their mouths. At first it smells very bad. But once the ambergris is in the sea it changes. The salt water and the sun make the ambergris smooth and hard. Its smell changes too - it smells sweet! Ambergris is worth a lot of money. The piece the Wrights found was worth around 300,000 US dollars. People use ambergris to make costly perfumes. Today’s Spotlight is on good-smelling perfume.

Voice 1 

Put a little perfume on your wrist. The liquid quickly disappears. But a wonderful smell remains. People around the world wear perfumes of different kinds. But wearing perfume is not a modern idea. People have been using perfume for thousands of years.

Voice 2 

The word perfume comes from the Latin: per - fume, meaning ‘through smoke’. This is because some of the first perfumes came from burning things. People used good-smelling oils and plants. They burned them in religious ceremonies. The smoke carried the smell through the air.

Voice 1 

In many cultures people use perfume in religious and cultural celebrations. For example, people burn perfumed sticks. Their powerful smell fills the air.

Voice 2 

In the Hindu celebration of Phagwah, liquid perfume is important. The Phagwah holiday celebrates good winning against evil. People throw perfume and water over family and friends in celebration. When people leave the ceremony they smell of the sweet oils. But liquid perfume did not originate in India. Many experts believe that perfume for the body first developed in Egypt.

Voice 1 

The temple of Edfu in Egypt was built thousands of years ago. Inside the temple there are many pictures carved into stone walls. These pictures show people making perfume from a special flower - a white Lily. Ancient Egyptian priests first used perfume for religious purposes only. But soon many people covered their bodies with sweet-smelling perfumes. This protected their skin. Bathing with perfume became a large part of Egyptian social life.

Voice 2 

Alexander the Great brought perfumes from Egypt to Greece. Perfume became important for Greek communities as well. And the Greeks played an important part in the science of perfume. They separated the different perfumes - depending on the part of the plant they came from. And they wrote down lists of the different kinds.

Voice 1 

An Arabian doctor* helped perfume take its modern, liquid form. Dr. Avicenna found a way to distill perfume. This was a process of removing the oils from flowers. Dr. Avicenna used the sweet-smelling rose flower. Soon, rose water became part of Arabian culture. People put drops of rose water on their visitors. This showed that they valued them highly.

Voice 2 

Honouring visitors is an important part of Middle Eastern culture. The Christian Bible is one place where this custom is recorded. The Bible tells us that people offered their visitors water to wash their dusty feet. They also put a few drops of perfumed oil on their visitors’ heads. The Bible tells an interesting story about perfume. This happened over 2,000 years ago in the Middle East:

Voice 3 

Jesus was at the home of an important man. A woman from the town came with a special container of costly perfume. She cried at Jesus’ feet. She kissed them and poured perfume on them. The important man knew this woman. People said she was a sinner - that she did wrong things. He wondered why Jesus would let her put this perfume on him. But Jesus said:

Voice 4 

“When I came into your house you did not give me any water to wash my feet. She wet my feet with her tears. You did not give me a kiss. But this woman has not stopped kissing my feet since I came in. You did not put any oil on my head. But she has poured perfume on my feet. So I tell you this - her many sins have been forgiven.”
[Luke 7:36-50]

Voice 1 

The woman had paid a large amount of money for the perfume. But in this story the perfume is more than good-smelling oil. The woman made many sacrifices to give Jesus the perfume. She knew that she needed forgiveness. And she knew that Jesus had the power to forgive her.

Voice 2 

Most people do not have such a big result from their perfume. But smells can be very important. Like the ancient Egyptians, modern people spend a lot of time and money on perfume. The perfume industry is big business. The country of France sells 60 million dollars of perfume every year!

Voice 1 

Modern perfume is usually made with oil or alcohol. Perfume makers add different things to make special smells. These are often plant products such as fruits, roots, flowers and leaves. Perfume can also include a few animal products such as ambergris from whales. People have also invented chemical smells for perfumes.

Voice 2 

Different products make different smells - there are thousands of kinds of perfume. But they all have similar purposes: to produce a good smell. This smell can be important for cultural and religious events. Perfume can be a way for people to smell different. They can show that they are independent by smelling different. Perfume can also express belonging. People in a community often enjoy similar smells.

Voice 1 

Perfumes can even have a result on a person’s health. Some smells help people to be calm and quiet. Other smells give people energy. Smell can affect a person’s body, emotions and brain.

Voice 2 

Perfumes have many uses but they can cost a lot of money. People often give perfumes as a gift, such as in the story we heard from the Bible. However, the woman who gave the perfume to Jesus got a greater gift in return. The perfume was a symbol that the woman wanted to change her life. Jesus understood. He said to her ‘Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace’. And those words were even sweeter than perfume.

Voice 1 

The writers of this program were Elizabeth Lickiss, Marina Santee and Rena Dam. The producer of this program was Rena Dam. The voices you heard were from United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called ‘Perfume: Making a Good Smell’.

Voice 2 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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*This script incorrectly labels Dr. Avicenna as an Arabian doctor. Dr. Avicenna was Persian, not Arab. We apologize for this mistake.

Question:

Do you use perfume? What is your favorite smell?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on October 20, 2012

Some perfumes can affect our mood and give us feeling of freshness and cleanness. Modern people can’t already imagine the life withaut these aromatic flacons. Thanks Spotlight for an interesting article!

Avatar Spotlight
thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on January 20, 2015

There are many kinds of perfume from normal to high one and much different smelling which is suitable for our choice.I use perfurm every day for any communication to remove my natural body stink.It also shows your politeness.I like a light and attractive smelling!

Avatar Spotlight
PakaAnka
said on January 21, 2015

The perfumes is part of our lives daily, in work, offices, meeting, social live, etc. There are perfumes expensive and chipper, for woman or man.
Excellent topic, thank so much.

zanaku's avatar
zanaku
said on April 20, 2016

English of Liz Waid is very beautiful pronunciation
I hear it many times and study beautiful English every day
Thank you

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on April 22, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Friday 22, April 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Marina Santee, Elizabeth Lickiss, Rena Dam, and Joshua Leo:

First of all, I want to thank you for more one great article that you have developed for us readers and learners of Eglish.
Yes, I do. Every day I use a small amount of perfume after I take a shower. My favorite smell is a pleasant smell, soft, agreeable. Not a very Strong smell.  Besides, here in Brazil there are several excellent brands of perfumes such as: JEQUITI BRAND, AVON BRAND, NATURA BRAND, BOTICARIO BRAND, NIVEA BRAND, and others great BRANDS of perfumes. All these brand of perfumes above are excellent to use after we take a shower , when I go to work, or other occasions. In addition, all these brand of perfumes are not expensive.

All the best,
Severino Ramos

Avatar Spotlight
ElviraShakirova
said on April 22, 2016

I am a perfume addict :) Always wear it matching my mood, and it may vary throughout the day))
The perfume for me is a completion of my look, of my mood, of my whole image. More often I choose flower, citrus, a lil bit sweetened delicate fragrances, but sometimes my soul wants smth more strong, hot or more fresh, cool.. I don’t like so much monoperfumes, I prefer when it has a rich bouquet..  And I don’t understand, I really dislike when someone wears too much perfume, it affects bad)

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on April 22, 2016

Spirit helps us live. Our lives have many challenges. We find ourselves when we live our lives for beautiful good things. Beautiful good things exist. There are many beautiful good things in the life. We try much to live our lives well. We build for true value. We build for true happiness. We choose beautiful good things. We look for the meaning of the life. We live our lives for beautiful good things. We die for beautiful good things.

Avatar Spotlight
Thảo Trần
said on April 30, 2016

I don’t use perfume

Avatar Spotlight
farzadtf10@yahoo.com
said on December 04, 2018

Dr.avicenna was a persian and live in iran . his nation was not arab . please amendment it in your text

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on December 07, 2018

In fact, I,m not interested about Perfumes because I can not smell because I have a problem in my nose.
But I use perfume sometimes if someone give me it as a gift!
God bless you

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on December 07, 2018

I don’t know anyone who likes a bad smell of foots which had not washed for a few days. Even none likes the smell of fish rotten. So perfume is a good and pleased thing for the noses of all of us…

Avatar Spotlight
Afsaneh
said on December 07, 2018

Dear Joshua Leo and Liz Waid :
Hello
As mentioned in the Encyclopedia of Britannica:
Ibn Sīnā, in full Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā, (born 980, near Bukhara, Iran [now in Uzbekistan]—died 1037, Hamadan, Iran),
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Avicenna

He was born in Ancient Iran and buried in Iran. He is Iranian, not Arabs, but most of his works are in Arabic, and many people mistakenly think that he is Arabs.

Avatar Spotlight
Mohammadreza
said on December 09, 2018

Avicenna was not arabian, he was persian!

KatyBlake's avatar
KatyBlake
said on December 13, 2018

farzadtf10, Afsaneh and Mohammadreza - thank you so much for telling us about Dr Avicenna. You will see that we have added a note with the correct information as follows:
*This script incorrectly labels Dr. Avicenna as an Arabian doctor. Dr. Avicenna was Persian, not Arab. We apologize for this mistake.
We are very grateful to all three of you for pointing out this unintentional error.

KatyBlake's avatar
KatyBlake
said on December 13, 2018

farzadtf10, Afsaneh and Mohammadreza - thank you so much for telling us about Dr Avicenna. You will see that we have added a note with the correct information as follows:
*This script incorrectly labels Dr. Avicenna as an Arabian doctor. Dr. Avicenna was Persian, not Arab. We apologize for this mistake.
We are very grateful to all three of you for pointing out this unintentional error.