Short notes on Competence and Performance


Competence means the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. Whereas, Performance means an act of presenting a play, concert, or other form etc.

Term competence and Performance concept

Noam Chomsky introduced these two concepts of language in 1965, in which he refers to the native speaker’s knowledge his language, the system of rules, his ability to produce and understand , While, Performance is the study of the system of rules, and actual sentence as how an individual performs using the rules.

Therefore, Competence according to Chomsky relates to the potential for language ability that the child born with and its naturel growth with age, whereas, Performance is the expression of this language and an ability in actual speech and writing.

The Competence further is the ability to distinguish between “grammatical” and “ungrammatical” expression as well as recognized ability, that means we are capable of judging sentences, we have never heard before, while performance is what a person can actually produce, that means; we tend not to produce what is in our competence because of memory limitation, direction, errors, false starts etc.

However, Competence is concerned in essence with the ability of that part of the child which help to produce language for instance; when the competence is narrowed to the knowledge of one specific language.

Thus, knowledge of the language is knowledge of is standard version which is codified in dictionaries and grammar books.

The notion of competence is basically linked with the knowledge of syntax as syntax is the backbone of language.

Competence relates to potential for use, not use itself. Thus, it leaves out of consideration and the use of language is in context.

Therefore, Chomskian revolution, sociolinguists like Gumperz , Ferguson, Fishman, and many become aware that merely the theory of language without the use of that language was not much value and hence they insisted that any notion of language must include;

  • Non- standard forms of language
  • The linguistic context in which it appears and
  • The speech context in which it is used

Thus, speech and writing as they appear or occur in this linguistic and sociolinguistic context and in the dialect/style/register in which they occur was now to be considered as language.

Further, control of all these aspects was considered to give rise to ‘communicative competence’; which is based on sociolinguistic text and context that is too based on different varieties of languages.


5 thoughts on “Short notes on Competence and Performance

  1. Francochuks 7 Aug 2022 / 3:39 pm

    And I can say you really did a a very competent performance in this post 👌❤️

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s