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competence and performance

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


P hilosophy of language A distinction drawn by Chomsky . Competence is a person's acquaintance with a set of grammatical rules , which are abstracted to a considerable degree from actual linguistic activities. It is the person's underlying linguistic ability. Performance applies this competence in actual circumstances to produce grammatical sentences. According to Chomsky, a linguist should be concerned with linguistic competence rather than the non-regularities of actual performance. A suitable grammar should be a description of an ideal speaker-hearer's intrinsic competence. The distinction between competence and performance is related to Saussure 's distinction between langue and parole . It is also said to be close to Ryle 's distinction between knowing how and knowing that, but this claim is controversial. “We thus make a fundamental distinction between competence (the speaker-hearer's knowledge of his language) and performance (the actual use of language in concrete situations).” Chomsky, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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