Sea Change

Sea change

SEA CHANGE: “…a poetic or informal term meaning a gradual transformation in which the form is retained but the substance is replaced… For example, a character from literature may transform over time into a better person after undergoing various trials or tragedies, i.e. ‘There is a sea change in Scrooge’s personality towards the end of the play.’” – Wikipedia entry for sea change

What’s the difference between a change and a sea change? Nothing, if you only read memos and press releases. Or these recent headlines:

Aviva push into rented housing is ‘sea-change

Barbara Walters’ Retirement: Sea Change Or Revolution?

Aquatica is a major sea change for water park

Okay, so that last one is a pun. But seriously – “The View” needs a replacement, and our choice of descriptors is sea change or “revolution?” Once again, hyperbole reigns supreme, with every advance hailed as a sea change. Just scouring the headlines, we have sea changes for surgery, banking and even the art of tax avoidance. In our opinion, better-looking mastectomy scars do not constitute a sea change in medicine. Patients not dying on the table from routine infections? Sea change. But in our modern media (which, by the way, is also undergoing a sea change), Florence Nightingale doesn’t merit the label. Barbara Walters does. That may be as media-fawners like it. I call it a comedy of errors.

Otto E. Mezzo

See also: quantum leap

P. S.: And by the way, what’s required for a “major” sea change? And what’s the difference between a sea change and a “revolution?”

P.P.S.: What’s with the Shakespeare references? And why is it a “sea” change (as opposed to a mountain change or a topsoil change)?  The bard invented the term (in “The Tempest”), so let him say:

“Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change,
into something rich and strange,
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell,
Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell.”


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