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The term linguistic performance was used by Noam Chomsky in 1960 to describe "the actual use of language in concrete situations". It is used to describe both the production, sometimes called parole, as well as the comprehension of language. Performance is defined in opposition to "competence"; the latter describes the mental knowledge that a speaker or listener has of language.
Part of the motivation for the distinction between performance and competence comes from speech errors: despite having a perfect understanding of the correct forms, a speaker of a language may unintentionally produce incorrect forms. This is because performance occurs in real situations, and so is subject to many non-linguistic influences. For example, distractions or memory limitations can affect lexical retrieval (Chomsky 1965:3), and give rise to errors in both production and perception or distractions. Such non-linguistic factors are completely independent of the actual knowledge of language, and establish that speakers' knowledge of language (their competence) is distinct from their actual use of language (their performance).
Descriptor
Proponent
Explication
Published in 1916, Ferdinand de Saussure's Course in General Linguistics describes language as "a system of signs that express ideas". de Saussure describes two components of language: langue and parole. Langue consists of the structural relations that define a language, which includes grammar, syntax and phonology. Parole is the physical manifestation of signs; in particular the concrete manifestation of langue as speech or writing. While langue can be viewed strictly as a system of rules, it is not an absolute system such that parole must utterly conform to langue. Drawing an analogy to chess, de Saussure compares langue to the rules of chess that define how the game should be played, and parole to the individual choices of a player given the possible moves allowed within the system of rules.
Descriptor |
Proponent |
Explication |
---|---|---|
Langue/Parole | Ferdinand de Saussure (1916) | Language is a system of signs. Langue describes the mental knowledge of how to systematically apply signs. Parole describes the physical manifestation of langue. Emphasizes revealing the structure of Langue through the study of Parole. |
Competence/Performance | Noam Chomsky (1965) | Introduced in generative grammar theory, competence describes the unconscious and innate knowledge of linguistic rules. Performance describes the observable use of language. Emphasizes the study of Competence over Performance. |
I-Language/E-Language | Noam Chomsky (1986) | Similar to the performance/competence distinction, I-Language is the internalized innate knowledge of language; E-Language is the externalized observable output. Emphasizes the study of I-Language over E-Language. |
n = 323 | PP2 > PP1 by 1 word | by 2-4 | by 5-6 | by 7+ |
---|---|---|---|---|
[V PP1 PP2] | 60% (58) | 86% (108) | 94% (31) | 99% (68) |
[V PP2 PP1] | 40% (38) | 14% (17) | 6% (2) | 1% (1) |
n = 85 | mNP2 > mNP1 by 1 word | by 2 | by 3+ |
---|---|---|---|
[V mNP1 mNP2] | 85% (50) | 96% (27) | 100% (8) |
[V mNP2 mNP1] | 15% (9) | 4% (1) | 0% (0) |
n = 153 | 2ICm > 1ICm by 1-2 words | by 3-4 | by 5-8 | by 9+ |
---|---|---|---|---|
[2ICm 1ICm V] | 66% (59) | 72% (21) | 83% (20) | 91% (10) |
[1ICm 2ICm V] | 34% (30) | 28% (8) | 17% (4) | 9% (1) |
Speaker's Perspective | Listener's Perspective | |
---|---|---|
Vt | Heavy-NP shift= rare | Heavy-NP shift= relatively common |
Vp | Heavy-NP shift= relatively common | Heavy-NP shift =very rare |
Transformation in Error | Error | Transformation in Target | Target |
---|---|---|---|
Underlying Structure | [_{CP}[_{C}+q][_{TP}[_{T'}[_{T} PRES][_{VP}[_{DP} you][_{V'}[_{V}be][_{DP} an oaf]][_{AdvP} sometimes][_{DP} why] | Underlying Structure | [CP[C'[C+q][TP[T'[T PRES][_{VP}[_{DP} you][V'[V be][_{DP}[_{D}an][_{NP}oaf]] [_{AdvP}sometimes][_{DP}why] |
Wh-Movement | [CP[DP Why][C'[C+q][TP[T'[T pres][VP[DP you][V'[V be][AP[AP[A'[A an][DP[oaf]]]][AdvP[Adv'[Adv sometimes][DP e] | Wh-Movement | [CP[DP Why][C'[C+q][TP[T'[T pres][VP[DP you][V'[V be][AP[AP[A'[A an][DP[oaf]]]][AdvP[Adv'[Adv sometimes][DP e] |
Subject-Auxiliary Inversion | [CP[DP Why][C'[C[T Pres][ [Cq e]][TP[T'[T e][VP[DP you][V'[V be][AP[AP[A'[A an][DP[oaf]]]][AdvP[Adv'[Adv sometimes][DP e] | DP Movement | [CP[DP Why][C'[C+q][TP[DP you][T'[T PRES][VP[V'[V be][AP[AP[A'[A an][DP[oaf]]]][AdvP[Adv'[Adv sometimes][DP e] |
Do-Support | [CP[DP Why][C'[C[T[V do][ [T PRES]][ [Cq e]][TP[T'[T e][VP[DP you][V'[V be][AP[AP[A'[A an][DP[oaf]]]][AdvP[Adv'[Adv sometimes][DP e] | Subject-Auxiliary Inversion | [CP[DP Why][C'[C[T[V be][ [T PRES]]Cq][TP[DP you][T'[T[VP[V'[AP[AP[A'[A an][DP[oaf]]]][AdvP[Adv'[Adv sometimes][DP e] |
Morphophonemic | Why do you be an oaf sometimes? | Morphophonemic | Why are you an oaf sometimes? |
Transformation in Error | Error | Transformation in Target | Target |
---|---|---|---|
Underlying Structure | [CP[CONJ And][CP[C'[C +q][TP[T'[T PAST][VP[DP he][V'[V say][DP what] | Underlying Structure | [CP[CONJ And][CP[C'[C +q][TP[T'[T PAST][VP[DP he][V'[V say][DP what] |
Wh-Movement | [CP[CONJ And][CP[DP what][C'[C +q][TP[T'[T PAST][VP[DP he][V'[V say][DP e] | DP & Wh-Movement | [CP[CONJ And][CP[DP what][C'[C +q][TP[DP he][T'[T PAST][VP[V'[V say] |
Affix Hopping | [CP[CONJ And][CP[DP what][C'[C +q][TP[T'[T e][VP[DP he][V'[V say+PAST][DP e] | Subject-Auxiliary Inversion + Do Support | [CP[CONJ And][CP[DP what][C'[C[T[V do][ [T PAST]][ [Cq]][TP[DP he][T'[T e][VP[DP e][V'[V say][DPe] |
Morphophonemic | And what he said? | Morphophonemic | And what did he say? |
Transformation in Error | Error | Transformation in Target | Target |
---|---|---|---|
Underlying Structure | [CP[C'[C +q][TP[T'[T PRES][VP[DP we][V'[V go][DP how] | Underlying Structure | [CP[C'[C +q][TP[T'[T PRES][VP[DP we][V'[V go][DP how] |
Wh-Movement | [CP[DP how][C'[C +q][TP[T'[T PRES][VP[DP we][V'[V go][DP e] | Wh-Movement | [CP[DP how][C'[C +q][TP[T'[T PRES][VP[DP we][V'[V go][DP e] |
DP Movement | [CP[DP how][C'[C +q][TP[DP we][T'[T PRES][VP[DP e][V'[V go][DP e] | DP Movement | [CP[DP how][C'[C +q][TP[DP we][T'[T PRES][VP[DP e][V'[V go][DP e] |
Subject-Auxiliary Inversion + Do-Support | [CP[DP How][C'[C[T[V do][ [T PRES]][ [Cq]][TP[DP we][T'[T e][VP[DP e][V'[V go][DP e] | [CP[DP how][C'[C +q][TP[DP we][T'[T PRES][VP[DP e][V'[V go][DP e] | |
Morphophonemic | How do we go! | Morphophonemic | How we go! |
Transformation in Error | Error | Transformation in Target | Target |
---|---|---|---|
Underlying Structure | [TP[T'[Te][CP[C'[C +q][TP[T'[T e][VP[VP[DP I][V'[V know][DP a boy]]][VP[DP who][V'[V has][AdvP hair down to here] | Underlying Structure | [TP[T'[Te][CP[C'[C +q][TP[T'[T e][VP[VP[DP I][V'[V know][DP a boy]]][VP[DP who][V'[V has][AdvP hair down to here] |
Wh-Movement | [TP[T'[Te][CP[DP who][C'[C +q][TP[T'[T e][VP[VP[DP I][V'[V know][DP a boy]]][VP[DP who][V'[V has][AdvP hair down to here] | Wh-Movement | [TP[T'[Te][CP[DP who][C'[C +q][TP[T'[T e][VP[VP[DP I][V'[V know][DP a boy]]][VP[DP e][V'[V has][AdvP hair down to here] |
DP-Movement | [TP[DP a boy]][T'[Te][CP[DP who][C'[C +q][TP[DP I][T'[T e][VP[VP[DP e][V'[V know][DP a boy]]][VP[DP e][V'[V has][AdvP hair down to here] | DP-Movement | [TP[DP a boy]][T'[Te][CP[DP who][C'[C +q][TP[DP I][T'[T e][VP[VP[DP e][V'[V know][DP e]]][VP[DP e][V'[V has][AdvP hair down to here] |
Morphophonemic | A boy who I know a boy has hair down to here | Morphophonemic | A boy who I know has hair down to here |
Transformations in Error | Error | Transformation in Target | Target |
---|---|---|---|
Underlying Structure | [TP[T'[T e][VP[DP I][V'[V know][DP where][CP[C'[C e][TP[T'[T PRES][VP[DP a top][V'[PP for it][V be] | Underlying Structure | [TP[T'[T e][VP[DP I][V'[V know][DP where][CP[C'[C e][TP[T'[T PRES][VP[DP a top][V'[PP for it][V be] |
DP Movement | [TP[DP I][T'[T e][VP[DP e][V'[V know][DP where][CP[C'[C e][TP[DP a top][T'[T PRES][VP[DP e][V'[PP for it][V be] | DP Movement | [TP[DP I][T'[T e][VP[DP e][V'[V know][DP where][CP[C'[C e][TP[DP a top][T'[T PRES][VP[DP e][V'[PP for it][V be] |
Subject-Auxiliary Inversion | [TP[DP I][T'[T e][VP[DP e][V'[V know][DP where][CP[C'[C[T[V be][ [T PRES]][ [C e]][TP[DP a top][T'[T e][VP[DP e][V'[PP for it][V e] | Affix Hopping | TP[DP I][T'[T e][VP[DP e][V'[V know][DP where][CP[C'[C e][TP[DP a top][T'[T e][VP[DP e][V'[PP for it][V be+PRES] |
Morphophonemic | I know where is a top for it | Morphophonemic | I know where a top for it is |
Error | Target |
---|---|
"pensi" | "pensa" |
think-2nd PERS-SG-PRES-IND | think-2nd PERS-SG-IMP |
"(you) think" | "do think" |
Error | Target |
---|---|
"non fa" | "non fare" |
not do-2nd PERS-SG-IMP | do-inf |
"not do" | "do not do" |
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