Monday, November 14, 2011

Tammet compared to a language savant

When some highly qualified researchers from universities compared Daniel Tammet with a man who appears to more closely conform to the established concept of the savant, a language savant named Christopher who has definite disability, Tammet's performance was quite different in at least two different ways. Who'd have thought? As far as I can tell from his own account of the testing that he did with two of the authors of the book below, Tammet might not have known that his performance in one of the tests would later be compared with that of a(nother) savant.

Neil Smith, Ianthi Tsimpli, Gary Morgan, Bencie Woll
The Signs of a Savant: Language Against the Odds. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

See pages 167 and 221 in this book for Tammet's account of this research:

Daniel Tammet
Born on a blue day: inside the extraordinary mind of an autistic savant : a memoir. Simon and Schuster, 2007.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The descriptions of his language ability suggest that his ability in French and German ("...some knowledge...) is weaker than his ability in Icelandic, Lithuanian, and other languages (described as "... reasonably fluent...".

Rather strange given that he had studied French and German for several years at school, had set himself up as a tutor teaching French and German, and was running a website selling French and German language courses.

I wonder how the researchers came to the conclusion that he spoke, say, Lithuanian better than French. I suspect that they were much more likely to have been able to properly test his French than his Lithuanian.

Mr Anon