chapter  8
12 Pages

The Role of Grammar In the Use of Language

WithD. Terence Langendoen

As language users, we either produce or we comprehend linguistic expressions; thus we may broadly divide the study of linguistic performance into the study of production (further divided into the study of the production of speech, of manual signs, and of writing) and of comprehension (further divided into the study of the comprehension of speech, of manual signs, and of writing). Each of these processes not only takes place in time, but ordinarily takes place in no more time than is required to process linguistic expressions as physical events (for example, we ordinarily understand speech in no more time than it takes us to hear it). To account for the extraordinary efficiency of the human language processing mechanisms, we must assume that representations of the significance7 of expressions are built up as those expressions are being received and produced. Furthermore, it would appear necessary to assume that separate, but integrated, processing subsystems operate simultaneously, in parallel, during the reception and production of linguistic expressions. Accordingly, each performance system is best analyzed as a set of interacting subsystems, much as the system of linguistic competence is.