chapter  6
27 Pages

Styles as parameters in text strategy

Against this view, objections have been raised. There are 'monists' who say that a given meaning can only be expressed in one single way. Once you start tinkering with expressions you also start tinkering with meanings. This used to be one of the basic tenets of the New Critics in the 1940s. But there are also 'dualists' who claim that the same underlying meaning can be dressed up in different surface forms. So for instance certain classic, though now outdated, schools of generative-transformational grammarians

used to insist that transformations do not change meanings though they do change surface forms. For a linguist it would be nice to escape responsibility by referring to reliable judges outside the stylistic debate for an ultimate verdict on such metaphysical problems. But in spite of persistent efforts, semanticists and philosophers have failed to give us simple, valid and reliable rules for deciding once and for all whether two utterances mean the same or not. And of course a phrase such as 'more or less similar in meaning' has already introduced fuzz into the argument.