Tag Archives: musicals

Why Can’t the English?

As a person who studies the English language I have a certain appreciation for the structure and formatting. I am well inclined to like those who use it properly. I am not a “grammar nazi” by any means, and I certainly make a good amount of mistakes on a daily basis (I’m sure my talented readers could find many). Even so, living in our modern world that has so little appreciation for good grammar is hard sometimes.

Here are some lovely anonymous Facebook posts and comments I picked up as examples of the problems. I found these after just a few minutes of scanning my news feed:

“It’s just painful for a little while after, especially if the tensions start sticking to skin and bone, but for the most part, nothing to worry about! And if you have a good surgeon you’ll heal completely and have full use of yore hand in no time. And I don’t remember the slightest but of the surgery, and the pain meds made me happy lol”

“I miss you and love u!!! Wish I could have seen you before you left .. Have lots of fun!!!”

“Sadly no….but its kind of shockingly accurate

“So ___ and I saw this poor little duck that was struggling for its life in the pond at Julia Davis. We preceded to stop our game of disc golf and attempted to rescue her.”

“fantastic! i approve.”

These are just some random examples of the problems that can be seen on social media posts. Misspellings, lack of capitalization, no punctuation, etc. And these easily corrected errors drive me absolutely crazy. Though not perfect at English I wish some people could take more time before they speak or post.

Recently I’ve been listening to my favorite musicals as a stress reliever before my exams. While listening I came across an old favorite, “Why Can’t the English” from My Fair Lady. The song is an amusing dig at those who don’t know how to speak properly, but I relate it to writing as well.

I’ll post the lyrics and a Spotify track below. Give me your thoughts. Do you think there’s a problem with people not bothering to use proper grammar?

 

Higgins:
Look at her, a prisoner of the gutter,
Condemned by every syllable she utters.
By right she should be taken out and hung,
For the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue.

Eliza:
Aaoooww!

Higgins:
Aaoooww!
Heavens, what a noise!
This is what the British population,
Calls an elementary education.

Pickering:
Come, sir, I think you picked a poor example.

Higgins:
Did I?
Hear them down in Soho square,
Dropping “h’s” everywhere.
Speaking English anyway they like.
You sir, did you go to school?

Man:
Wadaya tike me for, a fool?

Higgins:
No one taught him ‘take’ instead of ‘tike’!

Hear a Yorkshireman, or worse,
Hear a Cornishman converse,
I’d rather hear a choir singing flat.
Chickens cackling in a barn,
Just like this one here.

Eliza:
Garn!

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

It’s “Aaoooww” 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 as she does, sir,
Instead of the way you do,
Why, you might be selling flowers, too!

Pickering:
I beg your pardon!

Higgins: 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 whose
English is painful to your ears?
The Scots and the Irish leave you close to tears.
There even are places where English completely disappears.

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 never care what they do, actually, as long as they pronounce it properly.

Arabians learn Arabian with the speed of summer lightning,
The Hebrews learn it backwards,
which is absolutely frightening.
But use proper English and you’re regarded as a freak.

Why can’t the English,
Why can’t the English,
Learn To Speak?

 

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For Good

Wicked is one of my favorite musicals of all time. For further information on my addiction to musicals please see my past blog posts. Regardless one of the parts that always makes me cry is the song “For Good”. The song reflects what happens when we meet people who utterly change us.

For me that person was the girl who would be one of my closest high school friends.

In eighth grade my mother had told me about a girl she thought I would be friends with. We were in the same Girl Scout troop, did orchestra together and apparently both shared an interest in writing and books. At the time I brushed it off, but it wasn’t til later that I valued my mother’s advice.

I don’t remember exactly when it started. I know we were paired up as duet partners. I know we shared a note (mentioned in earlier blog posts) about our writing. I know I wrote her an email one night when I sensed she was hurting. I think that’s one of the great mysteries of friendship. It is very rare that you can define exactly where and when it started. It’s more of a process.

Either way as we developed a friendship based on our novels, I began to start working on my writing with more fervor.

Every day I would come to school ready to share about my latest story ideas or hand over one of the latest sections for reading. I appreciated the encouragement she gave me as well as the small bits of critique.

Sometimes I thought of us as Lewis and Tolkien (and admittedly I was jealous when she popped out a novel before I did even with my years of work). It was not uncommon for similarities to occur in our writing. We would laugh when we both ended up writing about a Jesse, or both ended up with prostitutes as protagonists, or somehow managed to both have similar dashing rescues. I would always just chuckle and remind her that years down the road people would look back and see how much we had affected one another.

My writing drastically changed over our four years of high school. Much of the change can be accounted to the maturity I gained, the new knowledge from classes, but a large part of it also falls on the influence of my friend.

She encouraged me to embrace a darker part of myself. While that part had always been there I had never been willing to recognize it. As I became older and her own writing (usually writing containing deaths and tragedy) became a regular read for me, I started to write a bit more darkly than I had previously.

Suddenly characters were dying. My protagonists were facing suicide, rape, war and other terrors of the larger world. Stories were not nearly as “happy” as they had been before. She did not kill my romantic nature. I retained the idea that a story that brings some piece of hope is the best. However, my developments caused my stories to largely shift. As time passed I gave up my childhood works and moved on towards new goals.

I am thankful for her in so many ways. With her at my side I finished two works and started many more. I received some of my best ideas so far and began to understand more about myself, the world, and writing as a whole. She solidified in me my desire to be an author and placed in me hope for one day getting published.

If you are reading this, my friend, know you have forever changed me and I thank you for it. I wish you the best of luck with your pursuits wherever they may lead you and pray that you will never forget the specialness of your written works. Thanks for changing me for good.

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