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Explain the difference between competence and performance and discuss whether this is something that linguists should take a view on.

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  • Essay length: 3066 words
  • Submitted: 11/02/2004
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AS and A Level Language: Context, Genre & Frameworks

The first 200 words of this essay...

Linguistics Coursework, LG102 Paula Reimers

N.B.: Sources referenced in Footnotes, see Bibliography (page X) for full details of sources.

Explain the difference between competence and performance and discuss whether this is something that linguists should take a view on.

Introduction

Throughout the course of linguistic study, the question of language origins as well as man's capacity to utilise its various forms has been constantly debated. Whilst the widely accepted view (propagated by Noam Chomsky) is that humans have an innate capacity for language usage, many linguists still subscribe to the consensus of Saussure, that language simply transcended generations as an effective means of communication and slowly evolved into its present form, its true origins extraneous to linguistic study. Whilst these theories have been supported by much hypothetical argument, unassailable evidence has yet to be discovered that serves to wholly validate either one.

Though their fundamental basis is evident in both Sapir and Saussure's work, the terms Competence and Performance were initially formulated by Noam Chomsky in the 1950s to define the scope of linguistic enquiry. Chomsky wanted to associate language structure to a template common amongst all languages (which he called 'Universal

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