As far as I'm concerned, the greatest thing to happen in linguistics during the past 20 years is the rise of Cognitive Linguistics as a competitor (and hopefully the eventual replacement) to the Chomskian generative paradigm. While Chomsky's theories (and those of his many followers) are all very elegant, they suffer from one big fundamental flaw in my opinion: It's not how language actually works. I think the cognitivists such as Lakoff, Fauconnier, Talmy, etc. have shown a lot of evidence for that. To use one of Lakoff's great examples, compare the following two sentences: If I were you I'd hate me. If I were you I'd hate myself. Compare these 2 sentences as to which party (the speaker or the addressee) is being referred to by the word "me" in Sentence 1 versus "myself" in Sentence 2. Chomskian theory has no way of explaining this switch.