Language is complex

Rick Dale, Jennifer Roche, Nicholas Duran

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In this commentary, we consider three good ideas from Verbal Behavior that have become central to some recent cognitive theories of language learning and use: social contingencies, multiple causality, and piecemeal syntactic growth. Following this, we identify two weaknesses of the book that may still invite new avenues of application of a behavioral framework to language: comprehension precedes production, and the vast complexity of syntax in normal usage. We end by briefly considering how behavioral, cognitive, and other frameworks should seek ways to integrate in an attempt to tackle the daunting complexity of language behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-362
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Complexity
  • Language
  • Learning
  • Pluralism
  • Syntax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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