My nephew Alex wrote me a note on Facebook:
I found this sentence in the French philosopher Georges Canguilhem that I thought you might appreciate (context: a short history of social normalization and standardization): "On commence par les normes grammaticales, pour finir par les normes morphologiques des hommes et des chevaux aux fins de défense nationale, en passant par les normes industrielles et hygiéniques."
To which I responded:
And the grammatical norms that are established in contemporary English as the beginning of this disciplinary process necessarily have nothing to do with how people actually speak the language. Necessarily, because it's not about helping people to speak correctly but about establishing arbitrary authority that people must obey without thinking through the grounds of that authority for themselves. The grammatical rules that are part of public discourse can thus become shibboleths people use to celebrate their own conformity with arbitrary power and to discipline those who do not conform to such power.
Hey, I can still talk the talk!
(Why post this here? Because if I leave it on Facebook, it will disappear down my timeline. If I post it here, it will disappear down my blog, but I will always be able to find it again.)