The Signs of a Savant: Language Against the Odds

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The Signs of a Savant: Language Against the Odds

Format:  Paperback,

219 pages

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Publish Date: Dec 2010

ISBN-13: 9780521617697

ISBN-10: 0521617693

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The following content was provided by the publisher.
Every once in a while nature gives us insight into the human condition by providing us with a unique case whose special properties illuminate the species as a whole. Christopher is such an example. Despite disabilities which mean that everyday tasks are burdensome chores, Christopher is a linguistic wonder who can read, write, speak, understand and translate more than twenty languages. On some tests he shows a severely low IQ, hinting at ineducability, yet his English language ability indicates an IQ in excess of 120 (a level more than sufficient to enter university). Christopher is a savant, someone with an island of startling talent in a sea of inability. This book documents his learning of British Sign Language, casting light on the modularity of cognition, the modality neutrality of the language faculty, the structure of memory, the grammar of signed language and the nature of the human mind.

Specifications

Author:
Author:
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publish Date: Dec 2010
ISBN-13: 9780521617697
ISBN-10: 0521617693
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 219
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 0.83
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 5.9 x 0.6 x 8.8
Walmart No.: 9780521617697

Chapter outline

Figures
Tables
Preface
Introducing Christopher
Personal background
Psychological profile
Medical background
Autism and perspective
Apraxia and the visuo-spatial
Theoretical background
Memory
Modularity and modality
The language faculty
Principles and parameters
Morphology as an interface
Theory of mind
False belief and the language faculty
Theory of intelligence and the executive
Central coherence
Relevance, and Christopher's pragmatic ability
Linguistic processing problems
LIA versus L2A
Christopher's English
Christopher's 'second' languages: lexicon-syntax asymmetry
Inhibition and weak central coherence
Summary and predictions
British Sign Language: An overview
Introduction
Sign languages as natural languages
Sign space
Phonology: the lexicon
Modality effects
Iconicity in the sign lexicon
A preliminary model
Morpho-syntax
Word-order and topicalisation
Negation, questions and facial action
Negation
Questions
Subject-object agreement
Classifiers and topographic space
Classifiers in spoken languages
Classifiers in signed languages
Parallels between classifiers in spoken and signed languages
Cross-modality effects: space, gesture and iconicity
Conclusions
The programme
Preliminaries
Methodology of data presentation and analysis
Iconicity
The curriculum and other interactions
Christopher and the comparator group
Rationale for the selection of BSL phenomena
Specific predictions about BSL learning in the two groups
The results
Introduction
Overview of Christopher's BSL learning
Non-verbal communication, gesture and iconicity
Lexical development
Morpho-syntax
Word-order
The face: negation and questions
Negation
Questions
Sign space and verb agreement
Classifiers
Further tests
Summary and conclusions
Christopher in the wider context
Introduction: dissociations revisited
Aphasic signers
Background: unimpaired signers
Signers with stroke
Sign versus gesture: Charles
Robert
Autistic signers
Heather
Bilingual twins with Down Syndrome
Daniel Tammet
Conclusions
Modality and the mind
Introduction
Modality effects
Articulation
Simultaneity (the non-concatenative nature of BSL)
Iconicity
Orthography
Deixis in English and BSL: apraxia revisited
Space, syntax and pragmatics
Classifiers revisited
Facial action, intonation and morpho-phonology
A model of the mind
The framework
Exemplification
Conclusions
Neuropsychology and linguistic talent
Modularity, modality and mind
Appendices
Stroop tests
List of example signs used in vocabulary tests in comprehension and production
Notes
References
Index

Book description

Every once in a while nature gives us insight into the human condition by providing us with a unique case whose special properties illuminate the species as a whole. Christopher is such an example. Despite disabilities which mean that everyday tasks are burdensome chores, Christopher is a linguistic wonder who can read, write, speak, understand and translate more than twenty languages. On some tests he shows a severely low IQ, hinting at ineducability, yet his English language ability indicates an IQ in excess of 120 (a level more than sufficient to enter university). Christopher is a savant, someone with an island of startling talent in a sea of inability. This book documents his learning of British Sign Language, casting light on the modularity of cognition, the modality neutrality of the language faculty, the structure of memory, the grammar of signed language and the nature of the human mind.

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