Tuesday, November 29, 2016

English and Personality


“Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech: that your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible; and don't sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.” Professor Higgins tells that to Eliza Doolittle in Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion.

“Does speaking well in English add a sparkle to one’s personality?” asks Indispire Edition 145. 


I have seen the foulest of souls speak the best of English.  And they came in the name of a religious cult and its sanctimonious morals and mores.  I have seen rustic people with no knowledge of English behave with poise and sagacity.  The opposite is true too.  All generalisations verge on falsehood and the assumption that speaking well in English can make one a sparkling personality is at best a pretty joke.  The theme is listed under “humour” at Indispire and so this post of mine is perhaps out of sync. 

Personally, I am a lover of English simply because it is the language of the world rather than that of The Bible.  More than that, it is the language which brought to me my favourite writers such as Dostoevsky and Kafka, Kazantzakis and Camus.  It is the language of the Internet and its ocean of knowledge. 



English has little to do with the sparkle of anyone’s personality.  The great secret of the sparkling personality, if I may paraphrase Shaw’s words in the same drama mentioned above, is not speaking in English or any particular language, but having the sparkle in your heart, having the same heart’s language for all human souls: in short, behaving as if you were in heaven where there are no third class carriages and one soul is as good as another.


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7 comments:

  1. Sadly, it's an enabler. We still equate good education, family background to well-spoken English.

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    1. I agree. Our education system is to blame. Make government schools accountable and effective and see the revolution that will happen.

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  2. Very well said Sir. Indeed very well. I had my formal education in my mother-tongue (Hindi) but English (as a subject in my curriculum) always fascinated me. Now I love English as much as I love Hindi and I am fond of expressing myself in both these languages. All the same, English-speaking should not be equated to superiority of any kind.

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    1. I too did my entire schooling in my mother tongue. But I grew up 'consuming' more English simply because it is the global language, the language which gave me certain advantages in mu pursuit of knowledge. Knowledge is power and hence may give one an edge over some others. But sparkle? Well, that's a different matter.

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  3. Yes, the sparkler is the heart and not the language......I was waiting to read your take on the topic.....I love the language too, but don't feel that it makes you shine.....

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    1. I am quite busy these days and hence my post was written in a hurry. But glad you like the line of argument.

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