Communicative competence

Lillis, T. M. (2005). Communicative competence. In: Brown, Keith ed. Encyclopedia of language and linguistics (2nd ed), Volume 1-14. Oxford: Elsevier, pp. 666–673.




“Communicative competence” was developed by Dell Hymes to describe, and account for, the knowledge that speakers and listeners have in order to communicate appropriately in different social contexts. It is a central notion in sociolinguistics and other socially oriented approaches to the study of language. This article aims to define the term as used by Hymes, discuss how it relates to other key concepts in sociolinguistics and to briefly explore extensions of this term into other domains. The article will conclude with a re-examination of this notion drawing on critical and post structuralist perspectives.

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