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  1. #1
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default The Duality Principle

    The duality principle

    I would like to open a discussion on the phenomenon of duality:

    The phenomenon of duality permeates nearly everything in the world. There is life vs. death, female vs. male, regular verbs vs. irregular verbs, stative verbs vs. dynamic verbs, gerund vs. infinitive, simple vs. continuous tense. You can go on and on drawing examples from all walks of life infinitely. Some of Ferdinad de Sauseure’s (a Swiss philologist 1857-1913) most central ideas are also expressed in pairs of concepts as:

    Diachrony vs. synchrony
    Langue vs. parole
    Signifiant vs. singnife´
    Syntagmatic vs. paradigmatic


    Even Chomsky generative approach is also derived from this dichotomy:
    Competence and performance

    Perhaps this duality is crucial in order to see the contrast and serves as a complement. You can’t know what’s good if you don’t know what’s bad. So “bad” makes “good” possible. IT or computer language (digital language) is also based on two modes (two digits)

    Diachrony vs. Synchrony
    Using analogy
    Even people like me who are fanatic about their love for anything which is Indian ranging from Indian food, spices, old films (Rajendra Kumar, Vijantimala, Mina Kumari, the wonderful Nargis, Raj Kapur, Dilip Kumar), Wonderful old Indian songs ( Lata Managashkar and Muhamad Rafi), fascinating Indian personalities (Ghandi, Nehru) and Indian religions, language (Sanskrit) and contradictions … have the possibility to see India in two lights:
    1. In the light of its history till now (historical development – diachronic view)
    2. India now in 2005. (Synchronic view)

    Still I focus on the second although I know the second view is the result of the first one.

    Another analogy is the game of chess (by the way of Indian origin too):
    Suppose two people play chess say Anand and Kasparov and you come to watch when they are in the middle of their game. Two options come up:
    1. Either you are interested in how they got to the present position (diachrony)
    2. Or you are only interested in the present situation (synchrony)

    The diachronic approach sees language historically (the historical path the language has travelled) as a continually changing medium and is more European and might have been influenced by religion because religious associations are particularly strong in relation to written language since writing was used to transmit sacred knowledge. You can see these echoes in religious words like scripture and script. So the first linguistic approaches focused on written records and were interested in historical analysis and interpretation (diachrony).

    The synchronic approach (non-historical) sees language at a particular moment in time and is perhaps more American because American anthropologists were preoccupied with establishing good descriptions of American Indian languages and cultures before they disappeared. However, there were no written records (historical or diachronic analysis was ruled out) and they were different from European languages. So they were forced to find another approach to provide a careful account of the speech patterns of the languages in the state the found them.


    Synchrony before diachrony
    Before you can study how languages have changed say from X to Y (view them diachronically) you need to know first what is X and what is Y (view them synchronically). How can we study the history of something if we don’t know first what it is?

    Regards
    Jamshid
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 11-Aug-2005 at 19:51.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: The Duality Principle

    Is Chomsky's competence/performance pair such an instance of duality?

  3. #3
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default The Duality Principle

    Yes, Tdol in a sense it's nothing new but the same as Sauser's langue and parole. If you don't contrast competence with performance you cannot make a distinction. Can you? In addition, the two words in themselves are two sides of the same skill which depend on each other ie cannot exist alone.
    Regards
    Jamshid

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The Duality Principle

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim
    Yes, Tdol in a sense it's nothing new but the same as Sauser's langue and parole. If you don't contrast competence with performance you cannot make a distinction. Can you? In addition, the two words in themselves are two sides of the same skill which depend on each other ie cannot exist alone.
    Regards
    Jamshid
    Hi, we meet in a different thead
    Anyway, please correct me if I am wrong, since I am not a professional in the area. As i see it, Chomsky's competence and performance have a dependency relationship. I don't see the pair as a dichotomy but performance as a result of competence. I mean technically, competence could exist without any performance. Starting from Chomsky's idea of innate knowledge, you could have somebody who has the "competence" but can't "perfom", am I right? Could you please explain a little bit further how these two concepts are an example of the duality principle and not just one existing as a reslut of the other?

  5. #5
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default The Duality Principle

    Hi Ed
    Yes, it's nice to meet again.

    I am not referring only to Chomsky's generative grammar in particular but to phenomena in general. With regard to Chomsky: how do we know what competence is if we don't know what's performance? What's the use of competence, even if it might exist without performance, if it's not performed. Competece can only be inferred from performance. Performance is evident and comptence is still waiting for ultimate evidence. So how do we know there is competence if there were no performance? In addition, any thing without performance or application will disappear or fade on its own because it cannot exist alone. By the way even when I say: "I" I have to say my mother and father. The duality system is widely distributed in nature but there are cases where there is no duality. Furthermore, often the pairs merge or fuse into one and go back to their analogous origin where there are no clearcut distinctions but a continuous flow.
    Regards
    Jamshid
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 11-Aug-2005 at 21:04.

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