Pragmatics is not a monolithic phenomenon, and neither is theory of mind: Response to Kissine

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    Abstract

    In this commentary, we emphasize the importance of the observations presented by Kissine (2021) in his target article for our understanding of the nonmonolithic nature of pragmatics. Our first aim is to complement Kissine's argument, discussing some critical cases of linguistic processes that demonstrate the need for a finer-grained characterization of pragmatic phenomena. In addition, we report some findings that suggest that perspective taking may emerge as atypical even in autistic individuals who appear to be able to pass the standard theory-of-mind tasks. Our second aim is thus to argue that, albeit difficult to spot in experimental settings, the atypical theory-of-mind profile of low- and high-functioning autistic individuals is mirrored in their difficulties in everyday sociocommunicative interactions. Moreover, we claim that subtle differences in perspective-taking abilities may explain the highly heterogeneous linguistic profile of autistic individuals. Ultimately, with this commentary we wish to highlight the need for an increased appreciation of the role of perspective taking in typical and atypical language acquisition. This is crucial to our understanding of the nature of language acquisition, and can shed more light on the interaction between language and other aspects of human cognition.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to) e218-e227
    Number of pages10
    JournalLanguage
    Volume97
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep-2021

    Keywords

    • Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • theory of mind (ToM)
    • Perspective taking
    • pragmatics
    • Language Acquisition
    • Mindreading

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