A lovely, sunlit room, restful and harmonious, with comfortable chairs, tempting books, and a scholarly looking desk, the severity of which is relieved by an adjacent work basket out of which peeps a delightful flowery summer dress just undergoing some remodelingâ€”that is the sanctum of Dr. Margaret Schlauch, Professor of English at New York University.
And she herself, slim, graceful, with a kindly friendliness that makes every comer feel at once at home, fits into this room to perfection. The gracious impression is confirmed and deepened when Dr. Schlauch speaks of her work. She has just started her summer classes and the fortunate students sitting under her may look forward to an interesting and happy session. Dr. Schlauch gives a course in “living English.” She is going to show her group that it is not only true that “le style est l’homme,” that not only the written word shows what kind of person one is, but that the spoken word, too, testifies to the racial heritage as well as the social position and the political views of the speaker.
EACH CLASS HAS OWN ARGOT
Not only has each social class its typical argot, she holds, but the conservatively inclined will use other words than the man of liberal convictions; the conscious or sub-conscious superiority of the ruling class will express itself as clearly in everyday speech as the sympathy and understanding of him who truly believes in the brotherhood of mankind.
But in addition to the social differences revealed by language, Dr. Schlauch is going to let her students do some actual field work in determining the racial influences that have molded and are molding modern American speech. The Scandinavian, the Italian, the Spaniard, the Jew, they all bring something to American English which modifies and sometimes enriches the standard language, giving it an added vividness, a psychological color lacking in the more stereotyped English version of English.
AMERICAN IS UNIVERSAL
Dr. Schlauch even considers that American English, the product of the great melting pot, may be the language of the future, the language to which all the races have contributed and which all, therefore, may claim as their own.
Surely such a course is full of the utmost fascination and could have been planned only by one who possesses the widest human sympathy and understanding. And this sympathy and understanding is also responsible for the extracurricular activities of Dr. Schlauch. She is one of the leading personalities in the anti-war and anti-fascist movements which the enlightened minds of our time oppose to the dark forces of intolerance and narrow nationalism.
Dr. Schlauch has traveled extensively through Europe. She attended the World Congress against War in Amsterdam in 1922, and she is certain that the danger of war and Fascist domination, threatening all civilization, can only be averted through the truly cooperative effort of all interested in the progress and the welfare of mankind.
Regardless of other political aims, the fight against war and Fascism must be a common objective for all parties, she maintains. Women, especially, all over the world, ought to work constantly and constructively in the reshaping and rebuilding of a world in which peaceful endeavor and not war, tolerance and liberty and not Fascism should be the determining influences in the life and the destiny of the citizens.
Dr. Schlauch gives generously of her time and effort to further this great movement. She is an inspiring speaker and throughout the winter she was constantly called upon to address meetings and to expound to them the necessity to forget all class and political differences in this common work. Her success has been unusually great, for gentle and charming as she is, she finds accents of true passion and indignation when she speaks of the terrors of war and the no less frightful terrors of intolerance and oppression.
Thus, she is far more than a brilliant professor of a famous university: she is a true teacher. A teacher who not only lectures, but lives her doctrine and whose pupils are, therefore, her enthusiastic disciples.