UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Pragmatics Reading Group

04 November 2020, 2:00 pm–3:30 pm

Chandler House

Autism, Constructionism and Nativism (Mikhail Kissine)

Event Information

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Shenshen Wang, Shaokang Jin, Xinxin Yan

Speaker: Mikhail Kissine (ULB)

Title: Autism, Constructionism and Nativism

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to provide a balanced assessment of the significance autism has for the scientific study of language. While linguistic profiles in autism vary greatly, spanning from a total absence of functional language to verbal levels within the typical range, the entire autism spectrum is robustly characterized by life-long deficits in intersubjective communication and persistent difficulties in adopting other people's perspective. In that sense, autism constitutes a unique profile in which linguistic competence is dissociated from communication skills. Somewhat paradoxically, autism is often mentioned to underscore the importance of mind reading for language use, and of inter-subjective communication for the emergence of language. Yet, experimental studies on pragmatics in autism indicate that many pragmatic processes unfold without adopting one's conversational partner's perspective. Moreover the patterns of language acquisition and learning in autism represent a strong challenge to the central role constructionist theories assign to socio-communicative skills. Data on autism thus forces a reconsideration of the a priori conceptual boundaries on language learnability that shape the foundational debates between constructionist and nativist linguistic theories. 

The talk will take place online on Zoom - a link will be sent out nearer the time. 

For further information and future updates on the seminars, go to the Pragmatics Reading Group web page: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/pals/research/linguistics/linguistics-events/pragmatics-reading-group


About the Speaker

Mikhail Kissine

Professor of Linguistics at Université libre de Bruxelles

He is also the Principal Investigator of the research group on Autism ACTE. His main areas of interest include speech act interpretation, semantics/pragmatics interface, cognitive pragmatics, autism, semantics of mood and modality.

More about Mikhail Kissine