Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Clahsen: Rules of language

Dissociation between regular and irregular in connectionist architectures: Two processes, but still no special linguistic rules

Marco Zorzi a1 and Gabriella Vigliocco a2
a1 Department of General Psychology, University of Padua, 35131 Padua, Italy
a2 Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706


Dual-mechanism models of language maintain a distinction between a lexicon and a computational system of linguistic rules. In his target article, Clahsen provides support for such a distinction, presenting evidence from German inflections. He argues for a structured lexicon, going beyond the strict lexicon versus rules dichotomy. We agree with the author in assuming a dual mechanism; however, we argue that a next step must be taken, going beyond the notion of the computational system as specific rules applying to a linguistic domain. By assuming a richer lexicon, the computational system can be conceived as a more general binding process that applies to different linguistic levels: syntax, morphology, reading, and spelling.