Spoken English and Broken English

Category: Education

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Class Presentation by Hanshal Nautiyal (A2324612004), Devavrat Mathur (A2324612036), Gaurav Sinha (A2324612057)


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Spoken English and Broken English By George Bernard Shaw Submitted by: Hanshal Nautiyal (A2324612004) Devavrat Mathur (A23246120036) Gaurav Sinha (A23246120057) ANALYSIS Why should I study this???? Group Presentation on: Submitted To: Mr. Parveen Kumar

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Brief Introduction to the Author George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60 plays. He was also an essayist, novelist and short story writer. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems with a vein of comedy which makes their stark themes more palatable. He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize in Literature (1925) and an Academy Award (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion , respectively. Shaw turned down all other awards and honours, including the offer of a knighthood. Notice the use of the word ‘Palatable’ used to describe his writings. Any other flowery word like understandable, lucid, digestible or clear could have been used.

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Visible Traits/Behavior Points Socialist Cynic Generally Liberal Fabian Critical Observant Educated Essentially Unorganized Excellent Public Speaker Believer of Class Equality Honest

Spoken and Broken English:

Spoken and Broken English Incorrectly labeled as a prose by countless people across the millennia, Spoken and Broken English is a transcript of a radio talk and was recorded in 1927. The talk was broadcast over Manhattan's radio station WNEW. It was a part of series of talks called A Treasury of the Spoken World. In this recording, the first of four sides made for Linguaphone in 1927, Shaw ponders the difficulties in accurately reproducing an individual human voice given the deficiencies of the playback technology of the time. The original discs feature Shaw's signature scratched into the run-out grooves.

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The points demonstrated or stressed upon his recordings can be divided into four basic ideas. These ideas are: Advantages in learning to speak well No such thing ideally correct English Confession of Bernard Shaw Advice to foreign students of English

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Advantages in learning to speak well: Bernard Shaw says that when we travel in the British Commonwealth or in America or when we meet a native of these countries, we have to speak English well for enough understanding. If we speak in a provincial or cockney dialect it may prevents us from obtaining some employment which is open to those only speak what is ‘correct English’. Cockney English refers to the accent or dialect of English traditionally spoken by working-class Londoners G.B. Shaw explains the difference between correct and understandable.

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No such thing ideally correct English: No two British subjects speak exactly alike. Even educated persons, the Poet Laureate and trained speakers do not pronounce of some of the simplest commonest words in the English language exactly alike. Members of the committee who are selected as models of correct speech speak differently. They differ according to the country in which they were born. Even within a language’s native home, it may be used in different accents and ways.

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Confession of Bernard Shaw: Bernard Shaw confesses that he himself does not speak English in the same way. When he speaks to audience, he speaks carefully. If he were to speak carefully to his wife at home, she would think he was going mad. As a public speaker he has to take care that every word he says is heard distinctly at far end of large halls containing thousands of people. At home he speaks to his wife like mumbling. His wife also a little careless and so he sometimes has to say “What?” Brings in his own personal example in order to connect with the people and drive home his point.

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Advice to foreign students of English: Do not try to speak English perfectly because native speakers of English won’t understand. In London nine hundred and ninety nine out of thousand people not only speak bad English but speak even that very badly. No foreigner can ever stress the syllables and make the voice rise and fall in questions and answer, assertion and denial, in refusal and consent, in enquiry or information, exactly as a native does. Therefore the first thing they have to do is to speak with a strong foreign accent, and speak broken English.


Analysis Recorded in the backdrop of 1927’s Politically unstable yet emerging United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, G.B. Shaw’s masterpiece further highlighted the need for simple yet powerful English. Due to the influx of migrants from different parts of the empire, even the ‘Mighty’ Politicians(known for their gift of gab) had forgotten the true essence of the language and were now not understandable to the people. Neither were the people understandable to them due to their meticulous need to speaking ‘Correct English’.

Significance in today’s time:

Significance in today’s time Classified as borderline boring or a sheer waste of perfectly good time by many of the modern day students, Spoken and Broken English’s relevance in today’s time cannot be more emphasized upon. With Globalization taking hold of the world and the need of learning multiple global languages out of which English stands at the very helm, has led people to seek out the ‘Correct’ form of the language. G.B. Shaw explains to us that although it is an insult to the native speaker of English who cannot understand his own language when it is too well spoken, times have changed and we simple have to accept the fact that Good English is more important than ‘Correct’ English. India, which carries in it English of different accents and pronunciations, could very well benefit by adding this piece to its education curriculum in order to make people realize the true sense of the word language. India is one of the chief exporters of human resource to the world. Thus, a study of this recording can help people overcome their obsession for correct and start focusing on the good aspect of English.

What can a listener take away from it?:

What can a listener take away from it? Never try to speak foreign languages too well. Foreign (non-native) speakers should speak with a strong foreign accent, and speak broken, that is English without any grammar when in England. Emphasize more on the communicating part rather than the correctness of a language. Be free in your ideals and views rather can conforming to a rigid pattern “The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.” “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”


Conclusion Although outdated in modern times, this piece has not yet become obsolete. Today’s modern times may have impacted our other senses in a positive way but our language skills have definitely suffered. A brief study of this piece can surely help us understand the basics of the language and help in efficient communication process.

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