a difficult day

possibly the most marked part of any classroom based discussion on language variation, perhaps especially ethnically-based dialectal variation, is the pronounced use of the pronoun forms they  and them (wish i could do a frequency count in class and measure the percentage of they/them). but that’s okay. i can see how it’s difficult not to focus on difference, difficult not to assume that “we’re not the ones who are speaking a different variety: they are.” refining our understanding of stigmatized dialects takes study, maybe even practice, and very often the first discussions are the most challenging, entailing radical re-evaluation of perspective. but even with difference as a point of departure, okay,  there are enough common threads eventually to weave a richly textured, more unified understanding. but when i hear future teachers disparaging vernacular/stigmatized varieties after a linguistics class themed around dialectal diversity: a difficult, disappointing day.