A central idea of the ASLAN project is that language is an integrative system, in which each aspect or phenomenon is necessarily connected to all other aspects of the system.

It is thus logical some research themes are best situated in between the three thematic poles. Since its inception, ASLAN has been has guided by viewing language as a complex adaptive system: biological, cognitive, social and cultural. Research funded by ASLAN has focused on all of these aspects, in various configurations, aiming to understand the reciprocally causal nature of language production, as it interacts with the biological, cognitive, social, and cultural planes.

In addition to being analyzed at the above levels of granularity, language is fundamentally dynamic — regardless of level — and given this, lends itself quite well to concepts that are usually mobilized in the science of complexity. These concepts include emergence, self-organization, feedback, novelty, non-linearity, adaptation, and indeterminism. While mobilizing these concepts in some way, research on complexity and language has taken a cognitive science approach (e.g. using language as a complex adaptive system to pinpoint commonalities in research on cognitive linguistics, sociolinguistics, first and second language acquisition, historical linguistics, psycholinguistics, and language evolution: Beckner, et al. 2009) as well as examined other disciplinary contributions to the study of language (e.g. the impact of mathematics on theoretical linguistics, semiotics, discourse analysis and philosophy of language: La Mantia, Licata & Perconti, 2017).

Throughout most of the literature, however, if these concepts are studied in relation to language, it is usually done with an etic view rather than an emic view. The differences between an etic and emic view have been extensively studied, in for example, linguistics, anthropology, psychology, and philosophy. But simply put, behavior can be described from two different standpoints, leading to results that shade into one another.