chapter  10
14 Pages

The Question of Individual Linguistic Competence

This chapter considers the characteristics displayed by the individual in the capacities, respectively, of receiver and of transmitter of linguistic utterances. A theory of competence should offer much that would be pertinent to problems such as that posed by interaction with computers, and it should also be a rich source of suggestions for artificial-intelligence simulation. But from the viewpoint of linguistics alone, the role played by the speaker as the repository of linguistic competence and therefore as the actual locus of language would in itself seem to provide sufficient justification for such a theory. The chapter explores that if the actual locus of language is in the individual human beings who use it, the form which it assumes there is quite different from that which we tend to attribute to it. It also highlights that the content of a linguistic expression includes a conceptual event, a modality, and clues as to what contextualization was intended for them.