Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Fair Lady


Even in Texas, when you call a government office you have to press "1" to continue in English. Not only that, it's been years since I spoke with a recruiter who was not from Bombay or New Delhi. I am NOT a bigot. I am NOT an English Teacher. But it would be nice to talk with someone for once who spoke good (USA-type preferred) English, whether in person or over the telephone.

In very first part of the movie, "My Fair Lady", taken from Pygmalian, Professor Higgins laments the fact that the English don't teach their children how to speak - meaning how to speak proper English. And he is totally correct. During my first gig in London at Lloyds TSB Bank, there were at least 15 different accents on the 2nd floor alone. Throw out the obvious Irish, Scotch and Welsh brogues of various colors and renditions, and you still have three different accents from South Africa and another one from New Zeland, another from Australia and then you have the various accents (10 or 12) from in and around London itself. There's a Midland's accent, a Birmingham accent, and... Well, the list just goes on and on and on and... On the other hand, after a year, I could tell a person's heritage and background just by his or her speech pattern.

Meanwhile, in the colonies, the good old USA, the New Orleans accent sounds remarkably like the Bronx accent, there is a group in SW VA that sound like they are from South Georgia, the Cajun accent made Justin Wilson a multi-millionaire which he then gave to five or six different wives. WHY can't we get ONE common language for the English-speaking peoples of the world. English is the national language of Canada, all of the UK including Scotland, Wales and Ireland, the USA, Australia, New Zeland, India (north and south) and, to some degree, Pakistan. If we could get everyone else to go along with this, I might even try to drop my Texas Twan... if everyone else would go along. :-)



Charles Young said...

I love the idea! Growing up as a nice middle class kid in the north of England, with a father from the 'deep south' (the Isle of Wight), my mother, who belonged to a very differeent era, always insisted that I didn't have any kind of accent. It was everyone else around us who spoke incorrectly. So, I vote for my own entirely un-accented version of English as the global standard. Indeed, I heard the son of the President of Pakistan speaking on TV without any kind accent just the other day...

Anonymous said...
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Alan Fish said...

I hate the idea, but luckily it's impossible. The reason there are are so many different versions of English is that it is spoken by so many societies over such an enormous geographic range. You can think of this as an inconvenience if you like but I would say it is one of the glories of the language.

Carole-Ann Matignon said...
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Carole-Ann Matignon said...

Ohh noooo.... Don't do that!

Accents are wonderful! Life would be so dull without them. As long as we can understand each other, why would we have to all speak the same way? Hearing an accent from a far away country or place that is full of memories can take you there in no time; it makes you dream; it opens your mind.

It might be because I am not a native English speaker but I don't think so. I have always been proud of my Nissart accent (from Nice that is). I married a "Southern" accent. Like most French women, I find American accent in French irresistible. I love hearing so much more than words when people talk!

So, I'll definitely vote NO on your petition to make language just plain.

James Owen said...

OK, OK!!! Enough already!

But, before anyone else comments, PLEASE go see the movie "My Fair Lady" (aka Pygmalion) where Professor Henry Higgins laments the very same thing. The movie is a classic, most of the actors have passed on to their eternal rewards but the idea that an old F!!! from Texas has a correct English accent is beyond the realm of credulity. Geeezzz! Can't anyone deal with humour any longer?

(See you in San Jose? )