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Newmeyer, F. J. (1996) Generative linguistics: A historical perspective. London: Routledge.

(pp 169-171) It seems reasonable to begin by pointing to the origins of the notion linguistic competence, and its companion notion linguistic performance. Their roots, of course, lie in the celebrated dichotomy between langue and parole (Saussures Course 1916). American structural linguists adopted the dichotomy implicitly, but attempted to recast it in terms more congenial to their (empiricist) view of language. Zellig Harris, for example, characterized langue as merely the scientific arrangement of [parole] (Harris 1941:346). Charles Hockett, taking, as always, one of the more realist stances of the post-Bloomfieldians, compared the relation between langue and parole to that between habits and behaviour (Hockett 1952). Neither the terms langue nor competence can be found in Chomskys 1957 book Syntactic Structures. The langue/parole dichotomy manifests itself in that book (Syntactic Structures) in a curious wayas that between grammar and meaning. Chomsky, at that time still under the influence of the Oxford philosophers, equated meaning with use. Indeed, as I have argued (Newmeyer 1986:27), Chomskys many arguments in that book for the autonomy of grammar with respect to meaning, are, in essence, arguments for the dichotomy between langue and parole. Chomsky introduced the terms competence and performance in his 1962 plenary session address to the Ninth International Congress of Linguists (see Chomsky 1964b). While not denying that they were in

essence parallel to langue and parole, he chose to coin new terms in order to stress the differences between langue and competence. In particular, Chomsky called attention to the idea of competence as a generative grammar expressing rule-governed creativity, contrasting it with Saussures notion of langue as an inventory of elements. One can point to four distinct periods in the development of the theory of competence, each of which can be characterized in terms of whether rules or principles have formed its principal research focus.2 Figure 14.1 lists the periods, the years when they have been predominant in generative studies, and the published work that provided their principal inspiration. The first period, that of Early Transformational Grammar, lasted from 1957 to about 1967. In this period, competence was viewed essentially as a set of rules, each of which was homologous to a particular construction in the language. Both phrase-structure and transformational rules were accorded importance, though the general thrust was to argue that the former should, in many cases, be dispensed with in favour of the latter. It was in large part dissatisfaction with the increasingly rule-centred nature of the first period that led to the second period, that of Generative Semantics, which lasted from about 1967 to 1974. This period, in which Chomsky and his co-thinkers formed a small minority of generative syntacticians, was dominated by the view that the boundary between syntax and semantics (and ultimately pragmatics as well) was illusory. The principal object of study, then, was semantic representation and the semantic basis of both syntax and pragmatics. Generative semantics was, first and foremost, a principle-orientated approach to grammar. Virtually every paper written in that framework put

forward some novel principle governing universal grammar or sought to provide evidence for some already proposed one. At the same time, language-particular rules were downplayed to the point where, in most generative semantic work, not a single one was formalized. The rapid decline in the fortunes of generative semantics in the early 1970s was in part a consequence of the vagueness with which its proposals were formulated and in part a consequence of the fact that many of its specific empirical claims about the syntax-semantics interface were disconfirmed. As a consequence, many linguists turned to a model that Chomsky and his students had been developing since the late 1960s. In this third, Lexicalist, period, which lasted from about 1974 to 1981, the non-transformational nature of many processes was stressed, and much attention was paid to lexical rules and rules of semantic interpretation. Finally, since around 1981 we have been in the Government-Binding period, in which the model of Chomsky 1981 has inspired a high percentage of the research in syntactic theory. Virtually no syntacticians today view the competence model as containing a list of constructionspecific rules. Rather, syntactic complexity is derived from a set of interacting principles that are parameterized within specific limits from language to language. These principles define core grammarthe central feature of competence. Lying outside the core is a periphery of processes that are presumably characterized and learned on an individual basis.