Mike S., On 16/10/2012 21:17:
> On Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 3:56 PM, Jack Steiner<[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>> Really none of this matters. As a scientist the linguist could care less
>> about politics or the human condition, unless they apply to language. As
>> far as dialects are concerned we know for a fact that these are as
>> linguistically legitimate as the 'standard' form. Any socio-political
>> ramifications are completely up to the whim of the interpreter.
>> Besides we all know human politics are meaningless as we're all going to
>> be eaten by bears someday.
> It's not that a linguist shouldn't care, it's that he isn't be able to
> change the socio-political ramifications even if he wanted to do so.
> Declaring this or that dialect "equal" to the standard one doesn't make it
> equal in socio-political reality.

It does, but little by little rather than in one fell swoop; but that's how politics generally works. Other prejudices, such as racial prejudice, have been defeated by denouncing the prejudice as without rational basis and odious. In defeating dialect prejudice we still have a way to go, but linguisticians are necessarily in the vanguard of that struggle.

George Corley:
> Protection of non-standard varieties may be *slightly* more associated with
> the left, and US English Only movements seem to be somewhat aligned with
> the right, but I don't think it's nearly as clean as many other issues.

In Britain it's pretty clear-cut -- conservatism, intolerance, misanthropy and veneration of the bourgeois are characteristics of the right -- e.g. the idea that standards of language are in decline, that language of the mob is debased and ignorant, etc. You get this malignant guff from Tory MPs and from the Daily Telegraph and its readers.

>   Many (non-linguist) liberal academics might support minority languages but
> be completely against preserving dialects divergent from standard.

That's certainly true, but only because those academics are (in this regard) ignorant & genuinely don't understand the difference between Standardness and correctness. It's not a considered, well-informed political position.

> In fact, liberal ideology may actually be used to justify insistance
> on instruction in standard English to the exclusion of other dialects
> (as if such were even feasible) on the assumption that teaching poor
> children standard English will improve their chances.

Is that liberal? Bleaching the skin of the darkly pigmented will improve their chances, but we quite rightly believe we should strive to change pigmentation prejudice rather than pigmentation itself. Clearly it's not at all liberal, but perhaps it is a view espoused by those with liberal intentions but ignorance about dialect.