Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Cold Blooded Murder of the English Tongue

There were some truly wonderful musicals that were popular when I was younger, many of which still maintain their popularity today. One set of lyrics in particular could just as well be entitled "The English Teacher Anthem." They do it so well, so I'll let Lerner and Loewe make my points for me. (Emphasis in bold is mine.)


From "My Fair Lady"(Alan Jay Lerner / Frederick Loewe)

Rex Harrison - 1956

Harrison: Look at her, a victim of the gutters,

Condemned by every syllable she utters.

By right she should be taken out and hung,

For the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue.

(Meow!) Heavens, what a sound!

This is what the English population,

Calls an elementary education.

Bystander: Come sir, I think you've picked a poor example.

Harrison: Did I?

Hear them down in Soho Square,

Dropping "H's" everywhere,

Speaking any way they like.

You sir, did you go to school?

Bystander: Whatta tyke me for, a fool?

Harrison: No one taught him "take" instead of "tyke".

Hear a Yorkshireman, or worse,

Hear a Cornishman converse.

I'd rather hear a choir singing flat.

Just like this one. (Garn!)

I ask you sir, what sort of word is that?

It's Au and Garn that keep her in her place

Not her wretched clothes and dirty face.

Why can't the English teach their children how to speak.

This verbal class distinction by now should be antique.

If you spoke sir, instead of the way you do,

Why you might be selling flowers too.

Bystander: I beg your pardon.

Harrison: An Englishman's way of speaking absolutely classifies him.

The moment he talks he makes some other Englishman despise him.

One common language I'm afraid we'll never get.

Oh why can't the English learn to set

a good example to people who's English is painful to your ears?

The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears.

There are even places where English completely disappears.

Well, in America they haven't used it for years.

Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?

Norwegians learn Norwegian, the Greeks are taught their Greek.

In France every Frenchman knows his language from A to Zed.

The French don't care what they do, actually,

As long as they pronounce it properly.

Arabians learn Arabian with the speed of summer lightning,

And Hebrews learn it backward which is absolutely frightening.

If you use proper English you're regarded as a freak.

Oh why can't the English,

why can't the English learn to speak!


G said...


No fair pilfering from sources whence I have already pilfered.

--Ahhh Rex...dear, dear, Rex. A finer potrayal of a character you will never find

Anonymous said...

What about Americans? We talk good English.

ProfK said...

Careful Lon or I maybe could send you to stay over by your grandmother's house.