Language competence

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Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Universidad del Zulia Faculty of Human Sciences and Education Division of Studies for Graduates Master Degree Program of Linguistics and Language Teaching LinguisticsApplied to Language Teaching

LANGUAGE COMPETENCE

Jendry E. Barrios O.

Maracaibo, April 15th, 2009.

Language Competence LANGUAGE COMPETENCE

What is language competence? This is aquestion that many linguists have been trying to answer for years. Chomsky was the first one who attempted to provide an accurate definition of language competence. He made a distinction between two verywell-known terms: ‘competence’ and ‘performance.’ By competence, Chomsky meant the shared knowledge of the ideal speaker-listener set in a completely homogeneous speech community. This knowledgeenables a user of a language to produce and understand an infinite set of sentences out of a finite set of rules. Performance, on the other hand, is concerned with the process of applying the underlyingknowledge to the actual language use.

Now, there is no doubt that what Chomsky called competence is what we claim to be linguistic competence nowadays, a person’s internalized grammar of a language,i.e. a person’s ability to create and understand sentences, including sentences they have never heard before, and a person’s knowledge of what are and what are not sentences of a particular language.However, grammatical knowledge is not enough to help us participate effectively in a communicative situation. So Chomsky’s attempt to define language competence is not so accurate.

It has beenworldly agreed over the years that the main purpose of any language is communication. But in order to communicate appropriately Hanidata states the following: “In addition to acquainting oneself with theforms of language, one must know the following in order to communicate appropriately: 1) the socio-cultural relation including the attitude, values, conventions, prejudices and preferences of people...
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