Turns out I should interact with non-linguists more. Maybe many linguists my peers have argued themselves silly on the principle that all language varieties can be analysed on an equal footing – me, I was unprepared and somewhat flummoxed to discover so recently that this was a live issue and that such a principle required defending.
I’ll try and be more sensitive in the future.
“Many people hold strong beliefs on various issues having to do with language and are quite wiling to offer their judgments on issues (see Bauer and Trudgill 1998, Niedzielski and Preston 1999, and Wardhaugh 1999). They believe such things as certain languages lack grammar, that you can speak English without an accent, that French is more logical than English, that parents teach their children to speak, that primitive languages exist, that English is degenerating and language standards are slipping, that pronunciation should be based on spelling, and so on and so on. Much discussion of language matters in the media concerns such ‘issues’ and there are periodic attempts to ‘clean up’ various bits and pieces, attempts that Cameron (1995) calls ‘verbal hygiene’. Most linguists studiously avoid getting involved in such issues [alas, if only I’d known there was precedent], having witnessed the failure of various attempts to influence received opinions on such matters. As I have written elsewhere (1999, p viii), ‘Linguists … know that many popular beliefs about language are false and much that we are taught about language is misdirected. They also know how difficult it is to effect change.’ Language beliefs are well entrenched, as are language attitudes and language behaviours. Sociolinguists should strive for an understanding of all three because all affect how people behave toward others.” (Wardhaugh 2002: 52-53)
Application: so should phonologists.