Levels of adequacy: Chomsky vs. Behaviorism


Elsa Skënderi Rakipllari


Faculty of History and Philology, Department of Linguistics, University of Tirana, Tirana, Albania


This paper compares and contrasts the standpoints of Chomsky and behaviorism on the grammar adequacy levels. Firstly we bring into attention the philosophical views of Chomsky and behaviorism respectively on the language faculty, providing a theoretical point of departure to further elaborate the concept of grammar adequacy. The three levels of adequacy a grammar can attain are observational adequacy, descriptive adequacy, and explanatory adequacy. The paper analyzes the tension among descriptive and explanatory adequacy. Next, it argues why the behaviorist grammars are considered to be at their best descriptively adequate. To conclude we offer an insight into what goes wrong with explanatory adequacy.


grammar adequacy; observational adequacy; descriptive adequacy; explanatory adequacy; Chomsky; behaviorism

Publication Date

April 1, 2015


Volume 5, Issue 1

Citation information

Skënderi Rakipllari, Elsa. 2015. “Levels of adequacy: Chomsky vs. Behaviorism.” Language. Text. Society 5 (1): e1-e8. https://ltsj.online/2015-05-1-rakipllari. (Journal title at the time of publication: SamaraAltLinguo E-Journal.)


author = {Skënderi Rakipllari, Elsa},
title = {{Levels of adequacy: Chomsky vs. Behaviorism}},
journal = {Language. Text. Society},
year = {2015},
volume = {5},
number = {1},
pages = {1–8},
url = {https://ltsj.online/2015-05-1-rakipllari/},


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