The enduring problems of co-ordinating theory with practice in applied linguistics and language teaching are viewed in relation to the symptomatic disconnections of theory from practice in "modernised" societies. As human rights and civil rights are steadily expanded in theory, elaborate counter-trends evolve in practice to maintain a rigid social order. Language is a key factor, since it is one of the hardest of all human capabilities to control or transform, and because linguistic human rights are not protected, and social discrimination can use language and "grammar" as pretexts for reinforcing inequalities. In parallel, theoretical linguistics discriminates against applied linguistics by designing theories which openly withdraw from all responsibilities toward society and education, and then trying to tell applied linguists what to do and what not to do. The potential roles of "grammar" in this complex situation are analysed and prospects for change are explored.
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