My Fair Lady

Essay: Pygmalion (My fair lady)

One of the most remarkable and amazing characteristics of human beings is our ability to learn. Even though we have certain inborn traits, internalized features, etc., we are still capable enough of acquiring a second language, modifying and improving the use of our native tongue. This capability is showed in the movie “My Fair Lady”, inspired by the play “Pygmalion”. In this film, Henry Higgins, a phonetician, bets he could train a bedraggled girl, whose use of language is awful for him, to pass a well-educated person, a duchess specifically. In the development of the story there are certain interesting scenes in which we can observe some linguistic peculiarities.

First, at the very beginning of the movie, the protagonist, Higgins, is walking on the streets and, just by listening to a few words by the people around him, he was able to recognize the place from which each person lives, or at least the city in which they were born. He could even be so precise to mention the neighborhood. This feature has to do with Sociolinguistics, because he was recognizing dialects within a small community; our dialect is mostly determined by our environment, so, based on the sounds used by the locals he associated them with a geographic origin.    

Second, when Higgins found Eliza, the scruffy girl, and convinced her to accept the bet, he started a process to teach the lady how to, at first, pronounce all the sounds by constant repetition exercises, and then to utter a set of sentences which carried different levels of difficulty. According to the phonetician, only through continuous use of the language we can acquire it properly. At this point, it is quite fascinating that new dialects can be learned, even when have lived many years using only one probably, we are competent enough to put aside our internalized features and be trained, change.

Finally, in several parts of the movie, we can observe the power of words, and how the...