The editorial team of Language is inviting responses to the next Perspectives target article. The Perspectives section of Language publishes target articles on topics of general interest in linguistics. Shorter written responses to a target article are published in conjunction with the target article. Our next target article (by Mikhail Kissine) provides a balanced assessment of the significance autism has for the scientific study of language. 

We are currently accepting commentaries up to 8,000 words in length (including references) in response to this target article, with preference given to shorter.  Commentaries should represent thoughtful perspectives that deepen our understanding of an issue raised in the article. Due to space limitations, we may not be able to publish all submissions that we receive. Final selection will be made by the editorial team to ensure that the commentaries collectively represent an informative diversity of perspectives.

Commentaries should be submitted through Language's online portal
 at this link. Please select "Perspectives" as the section of your submission, and mark the submission clearly as a response to the Kissine target article in the "Comments for the Editor" box available in the submission portal. The deadline for submission of responses is January 15, 2021. Any questions about the process can be directed to the Editor.

 

Autism, constructionism and nativism [download here]

Mikhail Kissine

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 inter-subjective 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.