There are several directions one might take in answering this question. The answers will not differ, but different audiences will require somewhat different approaches or different mixtures of the approaches.
- The "Universal Grammar" approach. This assumes that the audience knows enough about linguistics to handle concepts such Principles and Parameters, Merge, Move, Projection, and so on.
- The "Design Features" approach. This approach will work for both folks who have had linguistics and the unwashed, as the relevant design features (Hockett 1960) are relatively non-technical.
- The "Language Arts" approach. This approach should work for almost anyone who has at least weathered the twelve years or so of "language arts" and related material usually offered in the public schools.