Lecture 5:
1. Knowing a Language
2. Linguistic Competence
3. Communicative Competence
4. The Influence of Communicative
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Knowing a Language
 To know a language well and use it
successfully vary considerably:
historically and culturally, and between
 They depend on the perspective of the
person being asked the question: an
academic linguist, a language user, or a
language learner
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Knowing the grammar and
vocabulary of the language
is one thing. Being able to
put them to use invloves
other types of knowledge
and ability as well.
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Linguistic Competence
It is a useful first step to isolate the formal
systems of language (pronunciation,
grammar, and vocabulary)
An emphasis on formal correctness can be
seen as a matter of pedagogic procedure, a
strategic staging of information, of the kind
which is familiar in any kind of ordered
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Chomsky : the human capacity for language
is not the product of general intellegence or
learning ability, but an innate, genetically
determined feature of the human species.
We are born with considerable preprogramed knowledge of how language
works, and require only minimal exposure to
activate our connection to the particuloar
language around us.
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Newborn infant brain already contains a
Universal Grammar (UG) which forms the
basis of competencein the particular
language the child goes on to speak.
This linguistic competence is seen as
modular, separate from other mental
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Language as an object of academic
enquiry becomes something more
biological than social, and similarities
between languages outweigh differences.
Language is separated from other factors
involved in its use such as body language
and cultural knowledge
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Communicative Competence
Four types of knowledge (Hymes):
1. possibility
2. feasibility
3. appropriateness
4. attestedness
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1. A communicatively competent
speaker knows what is formally
possible in a language (the
expression conforms the rules
of grammar and pronunciation).
2. A communicatively competent
speaker knows what is feasible.
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3. Appropriateness concerns the
relationship of language or
behavior to context. It concerns
conformity to social convention.
4. knowledge of attestedness
(occurrence be accounted by the
three parameters)
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Influence of Communicative Competence
- developing learners’ capacity to use the
language effectively
- allowing teachers and learners to
achieve a more balanced view of what
successful communication involves
- powerful model for applied linguistics
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Any questions?
If not, end of lecture 5
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Language and Communication