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Q: the rain in spain ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: the rain in spain
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: lou5555-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 07 Jan 2006 09:29 PST
Expires: 06 Feb 2006 09:29 PST
Question ID: 430358
What is the origin of the diction learning phrase "The rain in spain
stays mainly in the plain" which Higgins uses in both Pygmalion and My
Fair Lady
Subject: Re: the rain in spain
Answered By: richard-ga on 07 Jan 2006 13:14 PST
Hello and thank you for your question.

 "The rain in Spain" was coined by Alan Jay Lerner for My Fair Lady (1956)
 (and appears again in the movie screenplay of 1964)

The inspiration for the phrase, like the entire tale, came from Shaw's
original stage play, but there's no "rain in Spain" in Shaw's
Search for Spain here:

Liza seeks out Professor Higgins in Act II of Pygmalion.  He decides
to teach her, but the lessons do not happen on stage.
In Act III, when the new Liza makes her appearance, talk turns to the weather:
" MRS. HIGGINS [at last, conversationally] Will it rain, do you think?   
  LIZA. The shallow depression in the west of these islands is likely
to move slowly in an easterly direction. There are no indications of
any great change in the barometrical situation.
  FREDDY. Ha! ha! how awfully funny!   
  LIZA. What is wrong with that, young man? I bet I got it right.
  FREDDY. Killing!   
  MRS. EYNSFORD HILL. I'm sure I hope it wont turn cold. Theres so
much influenza about. It runs right through our whole family regularly
every spring.
  LIZA [darkly] My aunt died of influenza: so they said.   
  MRS. EYNSFORD HILL [clicks her tongue sympathetically]!!!   
  LIZA [in the same tragic tone] But it's my belief they done the old woman in."

"[O]ne of the best-known lines in the show [is], "The rain in Spain
stays mainly in the plain." Following in Bernard Shaws footsteps, the
American adapter, Alan Jay Lerner, tried to find a sentence that
Higgins could use to teach his pupil to pronounce English correctly."

Thanks again for letting us help!

Search terms used:
Shaw Pygmalion
Lerner "fair lady"
Fair lady

Google Answers Researcher

Request for Answer Clarification by lou5555-ga on 03 Feb 2006 04:24 PST
Your answer was incorrect.  The phrase was coined by Shaw, who wrote
the screen play for the 1938 Gabriel Pascal-Anthony Asquith production
Pygmalion.  The phrase did not appear in the original play, but in the

My real question is whether Shaw made it up, or whether it was a
common diction exercise.

Clarification of Answer by richard-ga on 03 Feb 2006 22:55 PST
From what you say in your Request for Clarification, I have to assume
my answer was incorrect.  I was able to locate the text of the play,
but not the screenplay.

If you will contact and reject my answer,
you will be refunded all but your 50 cent listing fee.

May I suggest that in posting a question to Google Answers, you'll
benefit by telling us what you already know, viz.:

"Although "the rain in Spain" does not appear in Shaw's original play,
the phrase was coined by Shaw, since it appears in the screen play
that he wrote for the 1938 Gabriel Pascal-Anthony Asquith movie
production of
Pygmalion.  My question is whether Shaw made it up, or whether it was a
common diction exercise in his day."

Subject: Re: the rain in spain
From: bobbie7-ga on 07 Jan 2006 11:05 PST

According to Lida Baker at UCLA's American Language Center: "'The Rain
in Spain Falls Mainly in the Plain' is a great example of a normal
speech pattern. It's divided into two thought groups, 'the rain in
Spain,' 'falls mainly in the plain.' Each thought group has a focus
word -- in fact it has two focus words, rain/Spain, mainly/plain. And
the function words -- the prepositions and the articles and so on --
are not stressed, and so they're what we call reduced. They're
pronounced at a lower pitch, they're pronounced quickly ..."

VOA's Wordmaster
April 15, 2004 - Lida Baker: Stress in American English

Download MP3

Literary Terminology:

Assonance:the repetition of similar vowel sounds followed by different
consonant sounds.
Example:  The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.

Does this information answer your question?

Thanks, Bobbie7

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