Savants are people who are mentally and often physically impaired but who have one dazzling talent. Cases of savants, like Christopher who is described here, are not unheard of, but have never been reported before. Despite being unable to look after himself because he has difficulty with everyday tasks, Christopher can read, write, translate and communicate in fifteen to twenty different languages.
In this original, detailed and wide-ranging study, Neil Smith and Ianthi-Maria Tsimpli not only provide insight into the mind of one unique individual, but simultaneously cast light on the nature of language and thought in general. By exploiting recent developments in both linguistics and psychology the authors have made an essential contribution to the whole field of cognitive science.
"This is a very interesting book that any linguist, cognitive
scientist or philosopher of mind will love to read." Luca
Bonatti, University of Paris VIII at St Denis
"Even for those who don't share the authors' nativist
inclinations, Smith and Tsimpli's in-depth case study raises some
fascinating issues about the relation between cognition and
language. Essential reading for all cognitive scientists."
Annette Karmiloff-Smith, Medical Research Council
"In their fine and careful study of an individual with
remarkable linguistic abilities but otherwise limited capabilities,
Smith and Tsimpli provide new and important evidence concerning the
modularity of mind, invariant principles of language, and their
role in first and second language acquisition, the interaction of
pragmatic and conceptual factors in language use, and much else. It
is a very valuable and illuminating study." Chomsky, MIT
"This book, with its focus on understanding the architecture of
the mind, makes an important contribution to psycholinguistics and
the broader field of cognitive science......Like other great case
studies, their attempts to elucidate the architecture of the mind
by studying a single, unique individual are noteworthy."Victoria
Garlock and Elaina Frieda, University of Alabama