Introduction: English pronunciation with My Fair Lady (1964)

All right, Eliza, say it again.
The rine in Spine stays minely in the pline. The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.
Didn’t I say that? No, Eliza, you didn’t “sie” that; you didn’t
even say that. Now every morning where you used to say your prayers, I want you to say
“the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain” fifty times. You’ll get much further with
the Lord if you learn not to offend his ears. Now for your “h”s. Pickering, this is going
to be ghastly. Control yourself, Higgins, give the girl a
chance. Well, I suppose you can’t expect her to get
it right the first time. Come here, Eliza, and watch closely.
My Fair Lady – hurricanes hardly ever happen. Now, you see that flame. Every time you pronounce
the letter “h” correctly the flame will waver, and every time you drop your “h” the flame
will remain stationary. That’s how you’ll know if you’ve done it correctly. In time
your ear will hear the difference. Now listen carefully. In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire,
hurricanes hardly ever happen. Now you repeat that after me. In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire,
hurricanes hardly ever happen. In ‘artford, ‘ereford and ‘ampshire, ‘urricanes
‘ardly hever ‘appen. Oh, no, no, no. Have you no ear at all?
Shall I do it over? No, please. Start from the very beginning.
Just do this, go, “har, har, har, har”. Har, har, har, har.
Well, go on, go on, go on. Har, har, har, har
Does the same thing hold true in India, Pickering? Is there the peculiar habit of not only dropping
a letter like the letter “h”, but using it where it doesn’t belong, like “hever” instead
of “ever”? Or like the Slavs who when they learn English have a tendency to do it with
their “g”s, they say “linner” instead of “linger”, then they turn right round and say “sin-ger”
instead of “singer”. The girl, Higgins!
Go on, go on, go on, go on. Poor Professor Higgins,
Poor Professor Higgins. Night and day he slaves away.
Oh, poor Professor Higgins. All day long on his feet.
Up and down until he’s numb. Doesn’t rest, doesn’t eat
Doesn’t touch a crumb. Again, Eliza, “how kind of you to let me come.”
How kind of you to let me come. No, no. “Kind of you”, “kind of you”, “kind
– “, “how kind of you to let me come”. How kind of you to let me come.
No, no, no, no. “Kind of you”, “kind of you”. It’s like “cup of tea”, “kind of you”. Say,
“cup of tea”. Cup o’ tea.
No, no, “a cup of tea”. Awfully good cake this. I wonder where Mrs Pearce gets it?
Mmmm. First rate; and those strawberry tarts are delicious. Did you try the pline cike?
Try it again. Did you try the –
Pickering! Again, Eliza. Cup o’ tea.
Oh no. Can’t you hear the difference? Put your tongue forward until it squeezes on the
top of your lower teeth and then say, “cup”. Cup.
Then say, “of”. Of.
Then say, “cup, cup, cup, cup, of, of, of, of”.
Cup, cup, cup, cup, of, of, of, of. Cup, cup, cup, of, of, of
By jove, Higgins, that was a glorious tea. Why don’t you finish that last strawberry
tart? I couldn’t eat another thing. No, I couldn’t touch it.
Shame to waste it. Oh it won’t be wasted, I know of someone who’s
immensely fond of strawberry tarts.

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