In the movie "My Fair Lady", the main character will use this structure a lot; "I'm a good girl, I am." or "I washed my face and hands before I come, I did.". I like to know more about this structure and when such thing can be used. Thank you for your help.

1 Answer 1


This repetition acts much like an exclamation mark to insist on the truth of what has gone before.

It should not be emulated, unless you are aiming at a comic effect. Note that Eliza Dolittle comes to Prof. Higgins to lose her vernacular usage:

I want to be a lady in a flower shop stead of sellin at the corner of Tottenham Court Road. But they wont take me unless I can talk more genteel.

That gentility, as she learns in Act III, is not merely a matter of pronouncing words properly. She must also master the terms and phrases and syntax of "proper" English. One of the vernacular tricks she loses is just this insistent repetition: it disappears after Act II and does not return until Act V, at the precise moment when Eliza realizes her true strength and taunts Higgins by deliberately reverting for a single sentence to her old way of speech:

Thats done you, Enry Iggins, it az.

That sentence is the climax of the entire play, but the form of expression is ironic. I presume that you, like Eliza, want to employ "proper" English, not the street speech of 1913. If so, avoid this use.

The quotations above are from the text of Shaw's Pygmalion; I don't know whether they're preserved in the script of the musical and the movie.

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    I like "This repetition acts much like an exclamation mark to insist on the truth of what has gone before." Which makes it a pragmatic marker (emphasis - to the addressee, perhaps partly to convince oneself; there may also be a 'speech facilitator' role, giving the speaker time to marshall subsequent statements). Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 10:52
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    Oh, and is there an echo of Sherlock (Sherlock: A Study in Pink) in the scarified "proper"? We'll get him to decide when CGEL overstep the mark. Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 10:55
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    @EdwinAshworth The quotes are actually ironic, recalling Dolittle's plaint after he becomes rich: " I'll have to learn to speak middle class language from you, instead of speaking proper English." I'm afraid the Sherlock allusion escapes me; these days I watch television only for baseball, election results, and tornado warnings. :) Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 13:38
  • In that case, I'd say the Sherlock (which I can't recommend highly enough - treat yourself - best drama I've seen in many a year) usage is itself an intentional echo of Shaw. (In a sub-sub-plot in another episode, SH seems to leave one obvious murderer to his fate, instead of querying the evidence, because his grammar is so poor.) Commented Jul 10, 2013 at 16:15

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