CaitieCat @ Shakesville blogged last Friday about prescriptivism, classism, racism, otherwise known as three bad ideas that go poorly together. She writes
As many of you already know, I'm a linguist by training and vocation, as well as by avocation: I simply adore language and languages, always have. One of the first things one often hears when mentioning a background in linguistics is something along the lines of, "Don't you just hate it when people say $EXPRESSION? Wouldn't it be great if they had grammar?"
My answer is always, "Well, no, actually, I don't just hate it; I find all forms of my native English delightful in the most literal sense, that is, they delight me. And further, every language and dialect has a grammar. If they didn't, no one would understand anything anyone said, and they do, or they wouldn't be talking that way."
Because, like most linguists, I'm a fairly staunch descriptivist. In small words, what that means is that I believe language is what it is created to be, and that it changes, constantly, and that change in language is neither bad nor good: it simply is. As linguists, it's not our job to tell people what is or is not "good $LANGUAGE_NAME". It's our job to study how and why language is what it is.
As a kid who struggled to see the point of standardized spelling ("but you know what I mean!" I would always point out stubbornly to my mother) I have always felt unjustly criticized by people schooled in more mainstream, socially acceptable American and/or British English for not using "correct" spelling and/or grammar. So I have to say, the five-year-old child in my soul was particularly delighted by this passage
When you deride someone else's use of English for its "failure" to adhere to the "standard" variety, it's not they who end up looking ignorant. Consider, next time, asking yourself about some "pet peeve" about a particular variety of English: Did the speaker achieve communication (the goal of language)? Were their goals achieved, in that you were able to understand what they said, their ideas successfully conveyed from their brain to yours? If so, then what grounds have you for complaint? [emphasis original]
Amen. And go check out the whole post over at Shakesville.