Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pygmalion: 68% Complete

I'm just flying through this play; it's just so short! But I am enjoying it a lot.  It's very light reading but there's certainly a lot of deeper points being made about men "owning" women and women's right to be treated as something other than property.
The vocabulary word for today is "plinth" which is "a heavy base supporting a statue or vase or the lower square slab at the base of a column" (definition from The New Oxford American Dictionary)
I have two quotes for today, both of which relate to the English language.  I'm a lover of English myself, so I especially appreciated these two.  The first is from the preface.  Shaw writes:
"The English have no respect for their language, and will not teach their children to speak it.  They spell it so abominably that no man can teach himself what it sounds like.  It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him.  German and Spanish are accessible to foreigners: English is not accessible even to Englishmen."
The second quote comes from the mouth of Henry Higgins, who is railing against Eliza's pronunciation and usage of the language.
"A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere--no right to live.  Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespear and Milton and The Bible; and don't sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon."
Although I'm pretty sure you can't say that English is the language of the Bible, he does have a point!


  1. I don't think we are meant to regard Henry Higgins as an entirely sympathetic character. Even if we are, I refuse to. He's a right bastard.

    1. I absolutely agree! I think Shaw was trying to make him a jerk to show that treating women as objects for your amusement is wrong. He just made Higgins an extreme example of that kind of usage of another person. At least that's what I have gotten out of it.

  2. He was referring to the "Authorized" version of the Bible: in Great Britain, that would be the 1611 King James Version, the only one to be allowed for use in the Church of England.

    1. Yeah I'm sure you're right. It just struck me as funny because I don't think of English as being the language of the Bible and it seemed a little Anglocentric to say that it was!