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Pygmalion

Pygmalion

by George Bernard Shaw

Language and Communication Quotes Page 2

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

HIGGINS [confidently] Oh no: I think not. If there's any trouble he shall have it with me, not I with him. And we are sure to get something interesting out of him.
PICKERING. About the girl?
HIGGINS. No. I mean his dialect. (2.206-9)

Higgins's understanding of language leads him to treat certain people less as human beings than as test subjects

Quote #5

[To Freddy, who is in convulsions of suppressed laughter] Here! what are you sniggering at?
FREDDY. The new small talk. You do it so awfully well.
LIZA. If I was doing it proper, what was you laughing at? [To Higgins] Have I said anything I oughtn't? (3.122)

Here, Shaw demonstrates how easily language can be misinterpreted. What would seem like normal speech on the corner of Tottenham Court Road becomes novel and humorous in a new context.

Quote #6

HIGGINS. As if I ever stop thinking about the girl and her confounded vowels and consonants. I'm worn out, thinking about her, and watching her lips and her teeth and her tongue, not to mention her soul, which is the quaintest of the lot. (3.221)

Just as he does in Act 1, Higgins associates the act of speech with the soul, the uniquely human spirit. Here, however, he also seems to make little distinction between the physical parts used in the act of speaking and the soul.

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