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Discuss whether or not linguistic development is based on communicative competence.

Linguistic development is based on many factors. Historically, linguists have argued that different “competencies” impact language acquisition. Noam Chomsky and others have asserted that “linguistic competence,” or knowledge of grammar rules and language codes, determines the extent to which a speaker can use and understand language. In rejecting this assertion, Dell Hymes argued that “communicative competence,” the user’s intuitive knowledge of the functions of language in a given context, is paramount for optimal linguistic development.

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Communicative competence refers to the degree to which a language user can use language to communicate effectively. Specifically, this refers to the knowledge of language itself—vocabulary and sentence formation—but also how to use language. Linguist Dell Hymes believed that the acquisition of language hinges more on what is appropriate rather than what is grammatically correct. In this view, language use is considered performative rather than prescriptive. Children develop linguistically through the process of engaging in what Hymes called “speech acts” and “speech events.” Children receive indirect feedback on these performances, which in turn impacts linguistic development.

Communicative competence, then, is based on the idea that the language user needs to develop more than a correct use of language: they also need to...

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