November leaves

Bringing warmth and cheerfulness to November

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, No comfortable feel in any member— No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,— November! That was the poet Thomas Hood’s view of November in 1844, and things don’t seem to have improved much in 168 years. So here to add […]

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reflections

Some reflections on reflexives

Myself and my wife have for some time been amazed at the appalling driving habits of the general population of Grantham. When you read the above sentence, what goes through your mind? Do you think ‘What a perceptive comment, and what an elegant turn of phrase’ or does your internal grammar monitor shriek ‘Eek! Yet […]

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Winnie the Pooh language

The language of Winnie-the-Pooh

November 6, 2012 marks 88 years since the world was first introduced to one of the most famous characters in children’s literature, Winnie-the-Pooh. When We Were Very Young, A. A. Milne’s first collection of children’s poems was published on this day in 1924, and was written for his three-year-old son, Christopher Robin. When We Were […]

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Particularly excellent fireworks

Particularly excellent fireworks

As anyone who has read on will know, Gandalf the Grey has bigger fish to fry (dragons to down, necromancers to neutralize, etc.), when he arrives at Bag End at the start of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, but in Hobbiton it is for his fireworks that the wizard is most fondly remembered. As […]

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Nachos, Burritos, and Nationality

Nachos, burritos, and nationality

Let’s consider the nationality question of Mexican food. The question begins with the curious point that some of the most common “Mexican” foods in the United States such as burritos and taco shells are seldom eaten in Mexico. Nachos actually have become popular in recent years, but only in movie theaters, where Mexicans consider them to […]

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Dead presidents is slang referring to US banknotes.

Hip-hop’s “dead presidents”

Whenever election time rolls around in the US, I think… I’m out for dead presidents to represent me. Say what?! Rather than get mixed up in all that political business, I’m here to talk about the slang dead president. The following lyrics are from “The World is Yours”, a song from the hip-hop artist Nas on […]

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Halloween words have both British and American origins.

British and American Halloween words

The holiday of Halloween has its roots in the British Isles; the word itself (short for All Hallows’ Eve, the night before All Saints’ Day on November 1), originated in Scotland. Nonetheless, it was in North America that disparate regional customs were amalgamated into the celebration we recognize today. The vocabulary of the holiday reflects […]

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The Hobbit

The Hobbit: Tolkien’s Old English fairy tale

As Peter Jackson celebrates his birthday this week many Tolkien fans across the world are eagerly awaiting the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, due to hit the cinemas in December. To many, The Hobbit is the clumsier younger brother of The Lord of the Rings, less epic and with a Middle Earth that […]

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