Sunday, September 13, 2015

To Speak Impeccably

“Language most shows a man:  Speak, that I may see thee.” - Benjamin Johnson

Speech is exposing, and in the end, brutally honest.  I may dress looking every inch a lady; but as soon as I open my mouth, my speech begins either to confirm or deny my appearance.

How painstakingly we polish our outward appearance, while scarcely giving a thought to refining our speech. Yet it is our manner of speaking which better defines us.  Many flawlessly coiffured women fall headlong in estimation once they open their mouths.

In his brilliant play Pygmalion, the famed playwright George Bernard Shaw depicts a society which marked a lady or gentleman by his or her manner of speaking.  In the story, phonetics professor Henry Higgins makes a wager that he can reform a bedraggled Cockney flower girl to pass for a duchess at an ambassador's garden party by training her in gentility, the most important element of which, he believes, is impeccable speech.

When it comes to impeccable speech, we are closer to becoming a society of bedraggled Cockney flower girls than guests at the ambassador’s garden party.  Perhaps we can pass as dukes and duchesses as long as we keep our mouths shut.  But alas, few of us do that very well.

So, what makes a lady's speech impeccable?  Tomorrow we'll begin to "codify" impeccable speech in the form of habits which will prepare even a Cockney flower girl to attend the ambassador's garden party.

Principle:  A lady speaks impeccably.  

Photo:  Promotional picture of Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in the musical film adaptation of My Fair Lady, by Cecil Beaton, 1964.

1 comment:

  1. The timing of these lessons is simply impeccable, as I am on a personal journey to obtain a gentle and quiet spirit, part of which is requiring me to refine the way I speak. I desire to use lovely words spoken in a lovely way. Eager to read on!