Linguistic Competence And Performance

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Chomsky, (2009) argues that transformational grammar was not accessible mostly as a theory of syntactic properties of linguistic symbols, but as a theory of linguistic competence-a characteristic of the human mind. In his Aspect of the theory of Syntax Chomsky argues that making an essential difference between competence, which is the speaker-hearer’s knowledge of his language and performance which is the real use of language in real situations. Performance is a direct reflection of competence. In actual fact, performance cannot openly reflect competence. a person’s linguistic competence is judged by his ability to express himself coherently, and to understand what other people say. The essay will discuss language competence and performance in the theory of transformational generative grammar of Noam Chomsky.

Transformational generative theory is mentalist because it is concerned with finding out a mental reality. Consequently, grammar is not just a description of the structure sentences, it is even more description of the speaker’s linguistic competence; the structure of rules that has been internalized. Therefore grammar is very much a part of psychology by dealing with the mental system of the human being. As a result Chomsky (1968) captures transformational generative grammar in the perspective of mentalism. Transformational generative grammar is the skill of the speaker to understand and thereby produce sentences they have not came across before. According to Chomsky one of the notable aspects of grammar or language is its creativity. He claims that if one ignores the creativity of grammar, he or she has only minor interest.

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Chomsky says, that ‘the most striking aspect of linguistic competence is what we may call the creativity of language. It is the speakers’ ability to produce new sentences, sentences that are immediately understood by other speakers although they have no physical similarity to sentences, which are familiar. It makes sense to say that in a deep sense the creativity of language reflects the mentalism on the part of the speaker. Chomsky (1965) separates competence and performance; he describes competence as an idealized ability that is located as a mental property or function and performance as the production of real utterances. Competence involves “knowing” the language and performance involves “doing” something with the language. The difficulty with this build is that it is very difficult to review competence without assessing performance.

Speakers cannot communicate unless they have the same competence, which is, speakers have learned the same rules governing the language they all speak; and the separation principle which is a theory of language acquisition can safely summarize from the fact that language is used in a community. Nelson (1978) argues that the competence-performance from now on C-P, division is already hidden in a mechanist theory of mind, which says that cognitive processes are recursive processes of some kind. Chomsky argues that challenging the rationalist axiom that communication does not depend upon communal competence, and indeed that competence is strictly individual. On the other hand, language acquisition does seem hard to account for without a good deal of inborn structure. Chomsky conclude that it is some kind of logical structure, which does not have to be identical in all people, which is not qualitatively unlike other systems in other organisms, and yet is very likely species-specific.

So far as the structure has nothing to do with the historical concept of innate ideas. Competence is not usefully or illuminatingly regarded as propositional knowledge of anything, but is exercised (performance) as a kind of knowing how, which is quite different from knowing how to walk or twist the ears. Theories of competence, for example, have a limitation of not to taking into account human memory limitations, grammatical errors, or oral slips, all of which have affects on understanding or speech in definite ways. A familiar pair of examples showing memory limitation is, 1“The book the man the cow the boy loves bit bought is on his knees” (lb) The book the man bought is on his knees” l still grammatical although it is hard to understand and possibly would not be spoken by any person outside of a classroom, while 1 can be spoken by anyone. That is takes more short-term memory to keep straight than  does. the layering of sentences in sentences has more levels. Both sentences demonstrate the competence of the speaker of English, but only (lb), shows the performance because it is the use in real life situations.

Another example could be my friend visiting me can say “Give me them oranges”, while knowing perfectly well that good English requires “Give me those oranges”. which shows the performance is ungrammatical, while in the other memory limited, which suggests that performance may leave from competence in many ways, ungrammaticalness and memory-limitedness being only two among other imperfections such as slips, false starts, interspersions of ‘like’, or whatever be the current teenage abuses. Chosky (1965) argues that at any rate, what linguists study is competent English and whatever is ruled out is included in the performance of some individuals or groups and may be attributable to a range of noisy causes which are more interesting to the psychologist than to the linguist. As long as the linguist sticks to language, it does not seem to make much difference whether the the C-P difference or not.

Probably no observed linguist would make it a priori, but if he finds it useful in inquiry to ignore certain facts such as memory limitation or transition probabilities between words, it is certainly the privileged as a scientist to do so. Linguistic competence, then, simply becomes what the linguist studies, mainly grammar. The story is entirely different when the C-P distinction gets into the hands. “It is also complicated to test child’s competence and performance”. We cannot know when a child, for example, makes a mistake in terms of his own structure of competence. Children are disgracefully difficult subjects to test because of deep component. Smith, (1999) points out that even if it seems clear that the deep surface difference is suitable for child language, it is not so clear what the correct relationship is between the deep component of an adult grammar and the deep component of child grammar.

To explain this difficulty compararison of the utterances equal set of child. A child can “drink, “me drink, want drink, my drink”. All of these utterances mean either “gives some drink or I want a drink and on the other hand the adult utterances, “give a drink, I want drink”. An adult grammar and a child grammar share the same deep component. An adult grammar and a child grammar do not share the same deep component, and then the view of linguistic universals becomes danger. Chomsky (200) distinguishes between competence and performance. Competence is the knowledge of language: an understood grab of the structural properties of all the sentences of a language.

The performance involves actual real-time use and may differ completely from the essential competence due to environmental disturbances. Radford, (1999) explains Competence as the structure that enables people to produce all possible grammatical sentences. Performance is the transformation of this competence into everyday speech. Chomsky proposed that linguistic theory should explain the mental processes that underlie the use of language. That is, the subject matter of linguistics will be competence, not performance. In conclusion, competence is the innate knowledge that one has on language and performance is using that much inborn knowledge of language into sentence when having a conversation in everyday life. That is when using the language everyday one is performing it, showing the grammatical sentence that are clear to the hearer.

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