Mike S., On 17/10/2012 20:27:
> The point that I was trying to make here is that speaking is a part of
> being competent in *some* professions in a way that skin color is not.  If
> a given human resources manager is responsible for hiring technical support
> personnel who spend most of their time talking to frustrated customers,
> then surely it's reasonable (for everyone involved) to favor hiring the
> person who speaks the idiom of a majority of the customers.

Because dialect differences would give frustrated customers something extra to get angry about, or because dialect differences would interfere with communication? I don't think dialect differences necessarily impede communication (Is "you was" really harder to understand than "you were"?). As for the other reason, in Britain most telephone call-centres are in India, but complaints-handling call-centres (and even call-centres in general) for more upmarket firms tend to still be in Britain-- but I think the basis for this is pandering to the unreasonable prejudices of the customers.

> Likewise, wherever I go in the USA, I expect the local evening news
> to be delivered in the local regional accent.  It would be odd to
> visit Indianapolis and hear the weather forecast on the radio given
> in a Chinese accent (even an intelligible one).

If I were to read the evening news in New York, ought I to adopt a New York accent? (My natural accent is RPish.) Or ought I to be ineligible for being a local evening news reader in the USA?

>> There are pros and cons to having a standard dialect, but overall on
>> balance I think it is a really really bad thing. The standard is the native
>> dialect of the privileged and not of the disadvantaged and serves to
>> entrench the privileged and the disadvantaged in their positions, and to
>> reinforce attitudes and myths of superiority and correctness.
> Interestingly, I don't think that all leftists and progressives have
> regarded the standard dialect the way you do.  In fact I think many
> leftists and progressives would view the standard as a great device for
> equalizing and democratizing society.

I know, and even some linguisticians I know and respect take that view. In general I think it's because of the genuine extreme levels of ignorance most people have about language, and in the case of the linguisticians  it's because of the inchoacy and immaturity of the politicolinguistic debate.

>> Having said all of which, I hope David might see his way to moving us back
>> to the topic of leftist ideology in twentieth century linguistics. I
>> mentioned the matter of dialect prejudice only because that was the only
>> example I could think of.  (I promise not to accuse anybody of reading the
>> Daily Telegraph...)
> I am interested in this topic, but from what little you've said so far,
> (and I honestly don't mean any offense) I find your understanding of left
> and right at least half a century out of date, at least for the USA.  The
> "bourgeois" that you seem to disdain

[not disdain; rather: regret their inequitability of their social supremacy]

> control the corporate and political apparati that are aggressively
> implementing all sorts of policies that seem leftist to me. They are
> the ones actively subjecting White working class people to
> "sensitivity training" (leftist indoctrination) and "affirmative
> action" (job displacement and exclusion from university enrollment),
> and voting Obama president. Most of the people who consume Fox News
> (if this might stand as a sort of US analog of the Daily Telegraph)
> are in the lower strata of society. But maybe things are different in
> Britain.

I wasn't equating leftism with being proletarian and rightism with being bourgeois. Rather I was equating leftism and rightism with a desire to overthrow versus preserve (or allow to persist) the social structures that create gross inequities of wealth, power, the ability to pursue happiness, and so forth.

I don't concede that my understanding of left and right tout court is out-of-date, but I do concede that my knowledge of the USA is meagre. For instance, I hadn't known about the white working classes being forced to undergo sensitivity training; I had thought their main problem was lack of access to healthcare. To be honest, most of what I know about contemporary American life is learnt from ten seasons of the TV shows _The Wire_ (Baltimore) and _Friday Night Lights_ (small-town Texas). I'm sure you know that compared to elsewhere, the political Centre in the US is way way over to the right and consequently the political vocabularies are incommensurable.

> Obviously that last paragraph isn't language related so I won't follow up
> on it, but if there is to be a discussion of leftism in linguistics, then I
> am curious as to what exactly is meant by "left".

Yes, I agree.