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Here comes New Year

by Alan Townend

What word would you use to describe somebody who never gives up, is decisive and continues doing what they want despite comments from other people? This is an adjective incidentally that is used very often to name a warship with, the sort that ploughs through the waves and cannot be stopped. It also describes someone who could in some circumstances be regarded as obstinate, depending of course on the way you regard them. The word begins with the letter «r» — any ideas? Well, the word I'm thinking of is «resolute».

So, generals and political leaders want to take «resolute actions» They act «resolutely» to show just how determined they are. And now we come to the verb «resolve», which is where it all starts. Imagine that there is an argument about the spelling of a word say between two people playing the game of scrabble as there often is and the one that's losing usually likes to question the correctness of the word presented by someone who's winning!

There is invariably only one way to settle this and that's to look the word up in a dictionary and here in the UK it's got to be an Oxford dictionary. Once the word has been checked in the dictionary then the matter is settled or the matter is «resolved» and peace is restored to the game. On a more serious level we could be looking at an industrial dispute concerning working conditions, pay and hours of work, which looks as if it could result in a strike. There is an organisation whose function is to listen to both sides of any argument and then hope to find a solution so that there is no strike and in that way «resolve» the dispute. Interestingly enough the verb «resolve» can be used with and without an object. Look at this sentence: The trade union «resolved» (were determined) to go on strike although the management tried hard to «resolve» (find an answer to) the conflict.

You may well be asking now what any of this has got to do with 2004 but my earnest request to you is to ask for your patience but you may well guess the connection when I give you the next word from this family descended from «resolve». The word this time is a noun — «resolution».

Back to our imaginary strike. Suppose it is settled and everyone goes back to work. In that case we could say: The «resolution» (solving) of the strike was greeted enthusiastically by the management. Committees and councils hold meetings and decide certain measures that should be undertaken. They «pass» «resolutions». In other words they make decisions about what should be done and when this should take place. Another meaning of the word «resolution» could be used in connection with how you read this newsletter on the screen. It is used in the description of the clarity of the images you see on the screen and also the quality of the printing from your printer. Obviously if you have a computer screen that has a «high resolution» the quality and clarity are good because the tiny little dots are very close together.

And now if you're still with me, we come to the final use from the «resolve» family — the «NEW YEAR RESOLUTION». This is an attempt to decide that you will definitely do something in the following year or that you will definitely not do something in the new year. You could for example decide that you will try and lose weight, change your job, go jogging every day. You could make a «resolution» to stop smoking, to eat less, to watch less television. And as for me? Well, I really can't decide and over the years I've made «resolutions» and with the best will in the world I've broken them within a matter of weeks and so now I simply dither and hesitate because I can't make up my mind what to choose in the way of «resolutions». I know I could make mine to be positive throughout the whole of 2004 and make decisions quickly and furthermore to stick to them. Yes, that will do nicely. I'm feeling more positive right now as I sit here writing this letter. On the other hand I…

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