He’s actually a phonologist, which is a branch of linguistics
Posted by: showtunetrivia 01:13 pm EDT 04/02/21
In reply to: re: But was Higgins a grammarian? - AlanScott 07:11 pm EDT 04/01/21

Starting with GBS himself, Higgins is called a professor of phonetics. But that’s not strictly right. His field is linguistics, his specialty phonology. This was a field that was really taking off in the Victorian-Edwardian era; Shaw has Higgins declare he wrote HIGGINS’ UNIVERSAL ALPHABET, a method of recording what was known as “visible speech.” In fact, at the time of PYGMALION’s debut, the standard International Phonetic Alphabet had not yet been created (though I think they were working on it).

(Ridiculous digression: Warner hired Peter Ladefoged, professor of linguistics at UCLA as technical advisor to the film. That’s his handwriting and his personal version of Higgins’ alphabet in Rex’s notebooks.)

But, as stated above, a man so extensively educated would be quite familiar with grammar and proper usage of speech, though he would not be considered a grammarian. I think Lerner was just thrilled at something reasonably close to his subject matter that rhymed with Hungarian!

Michael, that’s a great piece you wrote. I’m still going to cherish the brilliance (especially preserving so many OBC portrayals) and wave away the messy bits.


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Next: re: He’s actually a phonologist, which is a branch of linguistics - AlanScott 04:47 am EDT 04/05/21

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