Towards a theory of communicative competence

Inquiry 13 (1-4):360-375 (1970)
In this, the second of two articles outlining a theory of communicative competence, the author questions the ability of Chomsky's account of linguistic competence to fulfil the requirements of such a theory. ?Linguistic competence? for Chomsky means the mastery of an abstract system of rules, based on an innate language apparatus. The model by which communication is understood on this account contains three implicit assumptions, here called ?monologism?, ?a priorism?, and ?elementarism?. The author offers an outline of a theory of communicative competence that is based on the negations of these assumptions. In opposing the first two assumptions he introduces distinctions, respectively, between semantic universals which process experiences and those that make such processing possible, and between semantic universals which precede all socialization and those that are linked to the conditions of potential socialization. Against elementarism, he argues that the semantic content of all possible natural languages does not consist of combinations of a finite number of meaning components. Differences in systems of classification preclude this, and such differences can be seen to infect all respects of intercultural comparison. Using the notion of ?performative utterance?, the author elucidates the role of dialogue?constitutive universals as part of the formal apparatus required of a?; speaker's capacity to communicate. He then notes what would be required of a general semantics based on a theory of communicative competence; and finally points out how this theory might be used for social analysis
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Mark Weinstein (1991). Critical Thinking and Education for Democracy. Educational Philosophy and Theory 23 (2):9–29.
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