The aim of this blog is to serve as a meeting point to those who study or have studied English philology and, more broadly, to all those who love literature and language.

26 Nov 2008


The film My Fair Lady, based on Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, deals directly with language as it emphasises the possibility of breaking through class barriers by modifying linguistic features such as pronunciation, lexis and topics of conversation. Philologist Henry Sweet inspired Shaw to create his fictional phonetician, Henry Higgins. The film offers instances of some characteristics of English sociolects, common differences between standard and vernacular ways of pronunciation, especially Cockney speech, techniques and exercises to practice phonetics…

Here we have a couple of examples:

Cinema and language. Scene 6

ELIZA: Why'd ya take down me words? 'Ow do I know you took me down right? You just show me what you wrote ab'ut me. That ain't proper writin'. I can't read it.

HIGGINS: I can. “I say, Capt'n, now buy a flow'r off a poor girl"

ELIZA: Oh, it's cause I called him "Capt'n"

Cinema and language. Scene 7.

HIGGINS: Every time you pronounce the letter ‘H’ correctly the flame will waver... and every time you drop your 'H' the flame will remain stationary. That's how to know you've done it correctly. In time, your ear will hear the difference. You'll see it better in the mirror. Now listen carefully. "ln Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire hurricanes hardly ever happen"Now you repeat that after me. “In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen"

ELIZA: "ln 'artford, 'ereford and 'ampshire 'urricanes 'ardly hever 'appen" HIGGINS: Oh, no, no! Have you no ear at all?

ELIZA: Should I do it over?

HIGGINS: No, please. Start from the very beginning. Just do this. HA HA HA… ELIZA: HA HA HA…

HIGGINS: Go on, go on. Does the same thing hold true in lndia? Have they the peculiar habit of not only dropping a letter but using it where it doesn't belong, like '"hever'" instead of '"ever'"? ……….

FRIEND: The girl, Higgins!

HIGGINS: Go on. Go on.

SOUNDTRACK: “Poor Professor Higgins”


  1. I'm not a big Audrey Hepburn fan, but I love her on this.

  2. It´s a pity I can´t watch them properly. The videos get stuck every two seconds.....

  3. I have no problem to watch the clips uninterrupted. Anyway, you could also try from the Youtube pages: and in case this route works faster.