Friday, May 27, 2016

Language, Society, and Truth of Mood

George Bernard Shaw Pygmalion Quotes
Language, Society, and Truth of Mood
Does language belong to any class like money, political power and everything else? And the answer is  surprisingly yes.

I first realized the same, when I was eleven year old. During summer holidays, it was Sanjay’s father, who scolded him, for saying “Bat and Ball” instead of “Cricket.” At that time, I thought, why he is acting nonsense. And I was like, everyone says, “Bat and Ball” and what’s wrong with that. But then, he is a high ranked officer in Indian Railways, and then he may be boasting up because of that.

My second realization came when I entered college. Or one can say when I first interacted with people from higher society.  I must admit, if not school, college is a great equalizer. You get admission in college on the basis of your marks, not something else 😉  Kids from higher society, have something different in their language. The flow of their language, words they use, and more importantly how they use them, is something to hear off. Only then I realized, the language, what we think, a great equalizer, is a great divisor.

But the real struggle is not the divide, because it ought to be there. But the transition, when you move from lower class to the higher class of language, while being stuck with your present class. And struggle heightens up, when unconsciously the transition affects your way of thinking. The people around you think you are boasting your knowledge despite being the same person as you were.  And when you suddenly realize, you actually don’t belong to your present section of the society.

The struggle is beautifully exemplified in the George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion, when Liza Doolittle, the female protagonist says,

I can’t. I could have done it once; but now I can’t go back to it. Last night, when I was wandering about, a girl spoke to me; and I tried to get back into the old way with her; but it was no use. You told me, you know, that when a child is brought to a foreign country, it picks up the language in a few weeks, and forgets its own. Well, I am a child in your country. I have forgotten my own language, and can speak nothing but yours. That’s the real break-off with the corner of Tottenham Court Road. Leaving Wimpole Street finishes it.
I can’t really tell you, how to cope with this? Because, I don’t have any absolute answer, or you can say, I am in the same boat. And in that case, I have to say, enjoy the ride. But if one does not look at this situation as a problem, instead as a solution. Then, this transition might be helpful in a way. The person might able to understand a wide range of people and what they actually mean, or what E. M. Foster calls it “truth of mood.”

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