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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com - Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

Act I - 08 Act II - 42 Act III - 118 Act IV - 167 Act V - 191


PREFACE TO PYGMALION -
A PROFESSOR OF PHONETICS



AS WILL BE SEEN later on, Pygmalion needs, not a preface, but a sequel,
which I have supplied in its due place. The English have no respect for their lan-
guage, and will not teach their children to speak it. They cannot spell it so abomi-
nably that no man can teach himself what it sounds like. It is impossible for an
Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or de-
spise him. German and Spanish are accessible to foreigners: English is not acces-
sible even to Englishmen. The reformer England needs today is an energetic
phonetic enthusiast: that is why I have made such a one the hero of a popular
play. They have been heroes of that kind crying in the wilderness for many years
past. When I became interested in the subject towards the end of the eighteen-sev-
enties, the illustrious Alexander Melville Bell, the inventor of Visible Speech, had
emigrated to Canada, where his son invented the telephone; but Alexander J. Ellis
was still a London patriarch, with an impressive head always covered by a velvet
skull cap, for which he would apologize to public meetings in a very courtly man-
ner. He and Tito Pagliardini, another phonetic veteran, were men whom it was im-
possible to dislike. Henry Sweet, then a young man, lacked their sweetness of
character: he was about as conciliatory to conventional mortals as Ibsen or Sa-
muel Butler. His great ability as a phonetician (he was, I think, the best of them
all at his job) would have entitled him to high official recognition, and perhaps en-
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com - Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

Act I - 08 Act II - 42 Act III - 118 Act IV - 167 Act V - 191



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