Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw: Speech, Accent, and Language

Pages: 1 (283 words) Published: December 3, 2014
Pygmalion - Bernard Shaw
What does Pygmalion tell us about language, speech and accent? Pygmalion explained how important the way you speak, or your accent, is. One of the main characters, Eliza, realises this after an encounter with Professor Henry Higgins, who studies languages and teaches phonetics, and Colonel Pickering. Higgins called her a guttersnipe, a squashed cabbage leaf, but had so much faith in his own work, that he believed he could teach her to speak properly and be able to pass her off as a princess, all within six months time. He does have a reason to do so, as he is a genius when it comes to accents. He could narrow down your place of origin to within two streets; only by hearing you utter a few measly words. Eliza seeks his help as she thinks he could help her become a lady, and possibly have her own florist’s shop. Pygmalion, based on a myth, does actually have a lot of truth in it. It’s like a snap back to reality. We, the human race, are a very judgmental group. We make assumptions, over nearly everything. Accent and speech being high up on the pole. Nowadays, though, we wouldn’t stop talking to somebody because they have sound like they have a lower class than us. Or at least I would hope. Speech and accent play an important role in where you stand in society, in the times of Pygmalion mostly, but it matters now too, if only slightly, but it matters. This is because of assumptions we make based on how society portrays people of different areas. What words you use and what context are also important.
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