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Is there a real difference between literary and nonliterary language? Few people today would say yes, owing to the fact that ordinary language advocacy has largely succeeded in nullifying the idea of poetic language. My aim in this paper is to show that poetic language is indeed a distinct mode of expression. To that end, I depart from the comparative approach to the issue, which looks for similarities and differences between literary texts and nonliterary discourse, and adopt a generative perspective that considers how texts are produced and interpreted.