Good-enough language production

Adele E. Goldberg, Fernanda Ferreira

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Our ability to comprehend and produce language is one of humans’ most impressive skills, but it is not flawless. We must convey and interpret messages via a noisy channel in ever-changing contexts and we sometimes fail to access an optimal combination of words and grammatical constructions. Here, we extend the notion of good-enough (GN) comprehension to GN production, which allows us to unify a wide range of phenomena including overly vague word choices, agreement errors, resumptive pronouns, transfer effects, and children's overextensions and regularizations. We suggest these all involve the accessing and production of a ‘GN’ option when a more-optimal option is inaccessible. The role of accessibility highlights the need to relate memory encoding and retrieval processes to language comprehension and production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-311
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • communication
  • good-enough processing
  • language production


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