Gathercole's (2006) comprehensive and interesting Keynote Article on the nature of the relations between nonword repetition and word learning highlights the complex number of interacting factors that affect this relation through development. In this Commentary we focus on the impact of higher level cognition, particularly linguistic representations on lower level functions such as attention and processing, as well as higher level functions such as memory. In addition, we note the importance of distinguishing children with specific language impairment (SLI) who do and do not have phonological deficit when testing for memory impairments. We argue that further detailed investigations are warranted at the linguistic levels of cognitive processing alongside memory tasks that tap different components of language and nonlinguistic memory. Such studies would help tease apart the complex, and probably bidirectional relations between attention, memory, and linguistic representations. Moreover, we propose that this investigative strategy crucially needs to take a longitudinal developmental perspective if we are to understand the developmental trajectory.