04 January 2011

New Year's Morphological Nightmares

My mate Phil was rostered on to preach at church last Sunday. He was bouncing some sermon ideas off me, and told me that since it was a service for the second of January, he was thinking of taking a New Year’s resolution theme. He was very excited about his idea of changing it to “New Year’s Revolution”. Thankfully he had come up with some better ideas by Sunday morning.

I, on the other hand, have been musing on the quirk of the English language that makes ‘revolution’ the noun of both ‘revolt’ and ‘revolve’. I like the idea that a complete overhaul of the system, and just another spin of the endlessly turning wheel are both represented by the same word. It’s like taking the adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” and expressing it in just one noun. Brilliant.

I thought it seemed especially appropriate at this time of year, when so many of them are being made. We all have these great ideas about what we can achieve in the new year, but in the end it’s just another tick around an endless cycle. And then I realised I was thinking about the wrong word. Damn it Phil, that would have made for an awesome, and potentially even moving, sermon. I mean blogpost.

There again, if the verb of ‘resolution’ is ‘resolve’ (and it is), then if we follow the revolution paradigm (there’s a science fiction film title in there somewhere) then ‘resolution’ should also be the noun of ‘resolt’. Tragically that’s not actually a word.

But it’s not that far from ‘result’. I’m sure if I tried hard enough I could come up with something deep about the journey from “Resolve” to “Result” being only a morphological derivation away. Unfortunately, “Result” is already a noun, so the methodology falls away a bit. I mean, it can be a verb if it wants to be (Garry’s pointless and boring morphology tutorial resulted in people throwing potatoes at him and ceasing to read his blog), but even so I think the link is a little thin.

The point is…

What about ‘re-salt’? As in, “after the application of the first pinch of salt, the broth was still too bland, so I re-salted it, in a frivolous act of re-salution.”

Oh never mind. Last year’s running totals have been removed and replaced with a set of New Year’s … goals. Some are more achievable than others, but we’ll see how many of them I can check off by this time next year.

Make of that what you will.

Garry with 2 Rs

Oh good grief. Does anyone know if ‘resolution’ as in “My monitor’s resolution is set to 1689x1050 pixels” has a verb form? This is going to keep me up all night.
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