The present volume was meticulously prepared. It all began with a workshop organized by the present editors, which had the purpose of clarifying the notion of developmental language disorder. Much depends on transparent, broadly supported classification in this field. At issue is not only the decision making in individual cases of intervention, but also the allocation of educational and remedial funds as well as political decision making at large in matters of human health care. Still the editors eschewed fast, shortcut solutions. The ultimate, firm base for classification of developmental language impairment, they argued, should be theoretical. To mark this intention, they organized the workshop at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, an institution entirely dedicated to the study of language processing in normal adults and children. This indeed set the tone for deep, theoretical discussions among the galaxy of participants. In their turn, these discussions provided the springboard for the joint production of the present volume.
What is it that the theoretical modeling of language use may have to contribute? In my opinion, it is threefold at least. The first thing experimental psycholinguists provide is ever-refined componential models of language processing. They partition the processes underlying speech understanding and production in components that are supposedly functioning in relative autonomy. This notion is, of course, as old as the work of Wernicke and the diagram makers, but there has been substantial progress since then. We have gained substantial insight into the linguistic rep