Topic 1 Understanding Communicative Competence

Communicative Competence (Berruto, 1974)

Communicative Competence


Ability to produce and interpret verbal signs. It entails:

phonological (ability to produce and recognize sounds);

syntactic (ability to form sentences);

semantic (ability to produce and recognize meanings);

textual (ability to assemble and integrate sentences in linguistic context).


Ability to modulate some features of the signifier, such as emphasis and cadence of pronunciation, silence as well as interspersing laughter, exclamations, etc.


Ability to perform communication by means of gestural signs (nods, mimics, movements of the face, hands or body, postures, etc.).


Ability to vary the spatial attitudes and interpersonal distances of the communication act – such as touching, being in contact or not – handling distances that have culturally determined meanings.


Ability to act socially modulating communication in accordance with its intention.


Ability to use verbal and non-verbal signs, in a way that is appropriate to the situation and to one’s own intentions.


Ability to recognize social roles and situations, conceiving meanings as culture and social bound.