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Introduction Grammar is often defined simply as how words and their component parts combine to form sentences Oxford 2001 Unfortunately the definition of grammar and the reality of its existence in our language are neither simple nor easily definable Linguists have for years fought over whether the rules of language are fixed or dynamic and educational theorists have toiled in a parallel m over how it should be taught if it is even to be taught at all This paper will attempt to pick through some of that noise and see if any sense can be made of the sense of language as well as pose a recommendation as to where it should reside in the pedagogy of our school systems A Little History Linguists can generally be divided into two groups prescriptivists or those who hold that language is set in stone by fixed rules and descriptivists or those who believe that language is a dynamic entity that evolves from the cracks and patterns of actual usage Cameron 1995 There was a time not so long ago in a galaxy not so far away when the prescriptivists were the ostensible monarchy of the grammar kingdom in the United States a time when everyone seemed fairly clear about what should be taught and in what order Nunberg 1983 Verbs in all their complexity dominated the scene and conjugations and inflections were learned by repeating everything until you threw up The result was that while many grammarians-to-be understood a good deal about how English was constructed many also found writing to be a tiresome and confusing process that did little more than tease the boundaries of sanity Finegan 1980 All kidding aside such a process which requires a mastery of the rules before advancing to content takes a great deal of time to master Picturing yourself in a foreign country should be enough to realize that this simply is not very practical for many learners
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