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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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Making every word count: improving writing with data

Bad writing can be expensive. This is the conclusion of author Josh Bernoff, whose Harvard Business Review article ‘Bad writing is destroying your company’s productivity’ looks at the hidden costs of poor communication.  Bernoff surveyed 547 businesspeople, discovering they spent an average of 25.5 hours per week reading for work, about a third of which […]

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Leading the reading: wayfinding in document design

‘Wayfinding refers to information systems that guide people through a physical environment and enhance their understanding and experience of the space.’ Wayfinding is especially important in complex built environments such as airports, hospitals and universities. While you’ve probably noticed the more obvious examples of wayfinding – maps and signs – you may have been gently […]

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