American Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley
If you followed generative semantics to its logical conclusion, everything speakers know about the world would have to be included within the transformational component, which therefore would become infinite...
Not necessarily, said the generative semanticists. The linguistic grammar need only include those aspects of the extralinguistic world that have direct bearing on grammatical form: just a small subset of everything... But we still had to answer, at least to our own satisfaction, the question that these claims raised: What parts of our psychological and social reality did require linguistic encoding, in at least some languages?
The Founders, in particular Thomas Jefferson, were aware that, to make the fledgling republic successful, the populace had to be educated, to give them the tools to differentiate between rational forms of argumentation and antidemocratic logical fallacies and other illegitimate means of persuasion. But setting up an educational system is not enough -- especially when "education" is more and more apt to be defined by the ability to pass a cut-and-dried multiple-choice test. (Odd - conservatives favor these too.) We have to become able to distinguish a real argument from a fallacious one.
We engage in an act of poetic meaning-making forewarned and forearmed. The warning is necessary: readers will have to roll up their sleeves and collaborate meaningfully with the poet to make the poem. Hence, the poet needs to play fair: leave the right margins unjustified and lots of white space around the piece. That signifies" Poem: Beware. Reader, if you are not willing to do your part, turn the page."
Poems omit, hint, and sometimes -- as Plato remarked -- they may even lie. The reader has to accept that the writer is not exactly playing fair. But the reader has been fairly warned and should know what is expected and be willing to provide it, as the poet took special pains to provide something worth struggling with. The two thus form co-contractors, bound to work together to make the poem.
The distinction between men’s and women’s language is a symptom of a problem in our culture, not the problem itself. Basically it reflects the fact that men and women are expected to have different interests and different roles, hold different types of conversations, and react differently to other people.