[languse] Hymes v. Chomsky
9 Jun 1999 16:05:16 EDT
To me, Hymes' reference to Chomsky's work is problematic from
the very beginning as Chomsky's original distinction between
competence (the internalized grammar) and performance (the actual
linguistic behaviour) heavily and necessarily relies on his
abstract idealization of a native-speaker's knowledge (of the grammar
of his language) in a homogeneous speech community. Hymes' theory,
on the other hand, cannot afford that degree of idealization that
Chomsky's does. Chomsky had already recognized the existance of
some pragmatic knowledge on the part of the language user. Even if
one can conceive of this knowledge as some internalised knowledge
(then some pragmatic I-language, to draw on Chomskyan terminology),
the use of the term 'competence' for that is (at least) misleading
because a good amount of such knowledge is conditional (for its
existence) on the very heterogeneity of speech community that
Chomsky's competence tries to eliminate. Communicative competence,
in this sense, must be the abstract idealization of a native-
speaker's knowledge (of what one should know in order to function
appropriately in a heterogeneous speech community) in a homogeneous
speech community, which is self-contradictory in essence: in a
homogeneous speech community, a good amount of such pragmatic
knowledge (for example knowledge of verbal and nonverbal strategies
to compensate for breakdowns, or knowledge of sociocultural rules of
use and rules of discourse) vanishes in the thin air because
sociolinguistic variation is simply dismissed as an aspect of
Ahmad Reza lotfi.
>the term communicative competence was proposed by hymes
>and builds on chomsky's competence performance distinction.
>he argued that at the level of discourse there are discourse
>rules that are as consistent as those of grammar. Children
>(people) draw on these and select among them in any situation.
>Competence exceeds performance.
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