The term ‘cognitive-linguistic’ has been widely adopted in descriptions of a variety of communication disorders of neurogenic origin. Despite this, clear agreement on the meaning of the term has yet to be reached, with the result that it is used both inconsistently and misleadingly. This lack of terminological clarity also undermines the assessment of complex communicative function. In this article the terminology associated with complex communication disorders is discussed and a simple framework for conceptualising cognitive-linguistic function is outlined. On the basis of this it is proposed that some currently available assessments that purport to measure cognitive-linguistic skills in fact have less explanatory power than other assessments that are often not specifically targeted at communication. Further, it is suggested that the framework offers an ecologically valid basis for the systematic assessment of cognitive-linguistic function.
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