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Let's start with three 'Sea Expressions':
- All at sea
- Sea change
- Sea of faces
If you live in Britain, as I do, it doesn't take long to realise that whatever direction you take, it isn't long before you reach the sea. And of course if you don't like flying, as I don't, and you want to travel to another country, you have to cross that strip of water between England and France called the Channel. It will come as no surprise therefore that this mass of water we call "sea" and all the things people do on it have had a great influence on daily language.
In terms of expressions where the word "sea" itself appears, the emphasis is on its great size. After all more of the earth is covered with water than land and it wasn't that long ago when people thought that once you went over the horizon in your boat, you fell off the end of the world!
Imagine that you've just started in a new job and only a few days later you find yourself alone in your place of work. Then the telephone rings and you very nervously answer it. You get asked lots of questions. You don't know the answers and you don't know where anything is kept. You are totally confused and can't help the caller --
"You are all at sea."
At lunchtime you feel you must have something to eat after all the problems you've had and you go into the firm's canteen. The trouble is that as you're new, you don't know anyone and the place is full of hundreds of people and you think they're all looking at you. You go down the stairs and can see this enormous number of unknown faces --
"a sea of faces".
Let me finish with an expression some hundreds of years old created by our greatest national poet, Shakespeare, which is still very much in use today. When we want to talk about a dramatic alteration taking place that affects many people like for example the ending of apartheid in South Africa, we call this in Shakespeare's words --
"a sea change." And now as it's high summer, I'd like to go for a long walk in the countryside but I can't really because as well as being surrounded by sea in this small island, we have a few problems with another mass of water
inland too --
in other words it's raining!
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