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re: But was Higgins a grammarian?
Posted by: Michael_Portantiere 11:35 am EDT 04/02/21
In reply to: But was Higgins a grammarian? - stevemr 06:18 pm EDT 04/01/21

"I thought Higgins' skill was his uncanny ability to tell WHERE people came from based on their accents and pronunciation, not on how perfect their grammar was. Is there anything in Pygmalion OR My Fair Lady that says that Higgins is at all interested in the correct application of grammatical rules?"

I have certainly thought of this argument. Of course, we see Higgins focus on correct pronunciation far more than correct grammar -- but first of all, he does have that wonderful speech about "the majesty and grandeur of the English language." That speech is so powerful and so moving that it finally motivates Eliza to correct pronunciation of "The Rain in Spain," and I can't believe anyone so concerned with correct pronunciation would be so cavalier about grammar, which I think everyone would agree is also a very important element of correct speech.

Also, there are a couple of times in the text when Higgins corrects Eliza's grammar rather than her pronunciation, or she corrects herself, realizing that she had made a grammatically error: "You're nearer my age than (what) he is," "I come -- came to care for you." And, in "You Did It," when Higgins recounts what happened at the embassy ball, he quotes Karpathy as saying of Eliza, "....and although she may have studied with an expert dialectician and grammarian." (Which doesn't necessary mean that Higgins would identify himself as a "grammarian," but as I noted, he does correct Eliza's grammar as well as her pronunciation.)
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