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Where do Christmas cards come from?

Ever wondered where the tradition of sending Christmas cards originated? I did, so I undertook a little research (okay, I googled it and did some reading on Wikipedia). Here’s what I learnt … The general consensus is the first commercial Christmas cards were created by the Englishman Henry Cole. In 1843, Henry (later Sir Henry) […]

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The genius of George Orwell

Back when I was a university student contemplating a topic for my English Literature Honours thesis, I thought it might be interesting to examine the early works of George Orwell, one of my favourite writers at the time. After twelve months of immersing myself in biographies, literacy criticism, opinion pieces and pretty much the entire […]

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BBC Subcommittee on Words goes rogue and has to be shut down

At the birth of British broadcasting, in the 1920s, radio presenters spoke with a range of accents and dialects, representing the considerable diversity of the British Isles. The BBC’s first managing director wanted to standardise usage and pronunciation, and set up the BBC Advisory Committee on Spoken English, chaired by playwright George Bernard Shaw. The […]

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The unexpected history of ‘Mrs’

The use of ‘Ms’, once controversial, is now mainstream. But it’s not so long ago it was viewed as political correctness gone mad. Personally, it’s bizarre to imagine that complete strangers ever felt entitled to know whether or not I am married. Picture a news article beginning ‘The unmarried CEO of BHP Billiton today announced…’ […]

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