Original Articles

Communicative competence: a look at Southern Sotho discourses in their situational contexts

Published in: South African Journal of African Languages
Volume 14, issue 2, 1994 , pages: 82–88
DOI: 10.1080/02572117.1994.10587035
Author(s): RosemaryH. MoeketsiDepartment of African Languages, Republic of South Africa


The notion of communicative competence is Dell Hymes' brainchild as he set out to challenge, amongst others, Chomsky and his decontextualized approach to language and meaning. Hymes and his followers concern themselves with the use of language in social settings and also with the study of the contexts that influence the utterance and interpretation of discourses. In this article some of these features of the situational context identified by contemporary linguists are considered and then the role of such features is shown in the production and interpretation of speech. For this purpose speeches of Southern Sotho-speaking children, male and female adults of different ages, educational levels, social status and cultural backgrounds, used in various settings and for different purposes, have been acquired and analysed. In the article I come to the conclusion that situational context, be it the immediate environment or the more entrenched cultural context, is indispensable for successful communication.

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