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LINGUISTIC COMPETENCE and performance are concepts used by Chomsky to describe sides of language capacity in the linguistic theory of transformational generative grammar. Competence is concerned with the knowledge one has of linguistic structure. Performance is concerned with actual production of the language. This production may be affected by various conditions and thus does not necessarily reflect competence. It has often been said that an adult's competence can be characterized by eliciting judgements of grammaticality, while the child's competence can only be estimated by studying a corpus of spontaneous speech. Many psycholinguistists have questioned whether one can ever be sure that the child's actual speech output is reliable for constructing the child's grammar or linguistic competence. Chomsky has stated that attemp ting to derive a child's competence from a description of a corpus may be hopeless. There are several problems with this approach to the child's gram
One problem in relation to establishing the child's grammar is deciding what speech events should be considered as representative of the child's performance. More or less arbitrary means have been devised for dealing with this problem. For example, Bloom decided that constructions appearing three or less times in the corpus of the threr children she studied should not be included in the grammar analysis. Othe investigators have chosen various
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