Linguistic Competence without Knowledge of Language



Chomsky's competence/performance distinction has been traditionally understood as a distinction between our knowledge of language and how we put that knowledge to use. While this construal has its purposes, this article argues that the distinction as Chomsky proposes it depends upon no substantiation of the knowledge locution; rather, the distinction is intended to abstract one system out of an ensemble of systems whose integration underlies performance. The article goes on to assess and reject an argument that the knowledge locution, independent of its traditional construal, is of some substance due to the peculiar evidential base of generative theories.