This weekend I made a trip to London to see one of the last performances of 'Pygmalion' at the Old Vic. And, despite, having an eventful journey there and back, it was wonderful to be in a London theatre, as part of an appreciative audience, enjoying the live performance of Patsy Ferran in the leading role.

With 'My Fair Lady' dominant in my memory, I couldn't help but look for points of difference, key of course in the ending, which certainly provided food for thought.

Although Hollywood turned the story into a romance, Shaw's original intent was to advocate for women's suffrage and the end of the British class system. In both productions, though, there is the debate about the power of language. How what you say and how you say it can alter your social status. 

A couple of books I've read recently have allowed the central characters to tell their story in their natural tongue. I don't usually enjoy reading dialect, but in both these stories it really did enhance my understanding and appreciation for the central characters. There was Adunni who lives in Nigeria and speaks a pidgin English in 'The Girl with the Louding Voice'. And in the children's book 'The Final Year' by Matt Goodfellow, Nate speaks Mancunian for his story told in verse. 

Perhaps I need to be better educated in dialect so that I can appreciate other stories told. I read an article recently that in Keighley they are running a six week course teaching people the Yorkshire dialect. It has been devised by the Yorkshire Dialect Society 'with the aim of increasing awareness of its rich linguistic history in an effort to preserve it'.

Of course it's always better to hear dialect than to read it. And in fact Louis de Bernières said in his event in Woodbridge last week that he has never tried to put the Norfolk dialect in his books for fear that it would come across as 'patronising'. There are still so many ways we respond to how someone speaks.

Thank you for reading.