>It's not a lack of intelligence it suggests to me (although it sets me up to find you a >bit dim, and I need convincing you're not) so much as indolence. It's... slovenly.
Ah, the good old, laziness argument. Most commonly employed against people who use glottal stops in certain words (e.g. water), or who say "t'cat" instead of "the cat". This can only be justly considered lazy if you make the assumption that the person is either trying to speak RP, but not trying hard enough, or if you assume that everyone ought to speak RP, and the only reason they're not is because of laziness or some other moral failure. Complete rubbish, and the whole argument assumes that there ought to be a standard way of speaking or writing that any deviation is bad. If that were the case, then we are truly privileged - standard written english must be perfect, (unlike the english of the past, along with all other languages which has changed continuously thoughout its history).
>although it sets me up to find you a bit dim, and I need convincing you're not
If you're happy to judge people like that, then so be it. Personally, I make a particular effort not to do so - because I once met someone with a very strong regional accent (dialect really), and, yes, unconsciously assumed she wasn't very bright. I was very much mistaken - and that was my failing, not hers.
The really interesting aspect of your post though is that you don't mention any real benefits of standardisation - you simply state that you judge people based on the way they use language. This is exactly my point - by and large, a misplaced apostrophe doesn't cause confusion, it causes you to make a judgement about someone. It's a class issue and a prejudicial issue - we live in a country where standardised speech and writting were propogated though certain educational establishments, and the main use of subtle grammatical rules is to try to assess a person's educational background.
>It's a bit much to suggest that a subconscious assessment of someone's >intellectual ability based on their use of language is akin to racism.
I beg to differ. I didn't mean active racism, I meant the tendency to make judgements about people based on completely unsuitable criteria. You suggest that because you tend to think someone is dim because of the way they speak, they should change to accommodate your prejudice. I suggest that you work on eliminating that prejudice.
>You are right that small variations aren't going to confuse people, but if you >leave it then they get worse.
Says who? Is english worse now than it was five hundred years ago? There are many long term trends in the development of languages (loss of inflection in english for example - something which has occurred in many other languages too). This doesn't appear to have been accompanied by a reduction in the expressiveness of the language, or an increase in confusion. Some of the changes occuring at the moment are quite interesting and appear to be for the better. Very few people get upset by split infinitives these days, and they seem to differ slightly in meaning from the "standard" form. The traditional rules for apostrophe use are pretty arbitary and rarely useful, while the much deplored use of an apostrophe to separate a pluralising "s" from a capitalised abbreviation does carry some meaning. The loss of many diacritical marks (the circumflex in words like "role"), the cedilla in words like facade is really no loss at all. Unless of course seeing these words naked as it were, confuses the hell out of you.
>Besides, you have forgotten my other point that people worldwide speak English, >what may be idiomatic and easily understood by us may be very confusing to >someone from a very different cultural background speaking English as a >second language
I'm not sure how this supports your argument at all. The other english speaking nations of the world have their own distinctive accents, dialects, grammars and vocabularies. This doesn't seem to cause any major problems, and suggests that insisting that there is only one true way to speak and write english is a bit of a waste of time.