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Syntax and its interfaces at the low and high ends of the autistic spectrum

Terzi, A., Marinis, T. and Francis, K. (2016) Syntax and its interfaces at the low and high ends of the autistic spectrum. In: Di Sciullo, A. M. (ed.) Biolinguistic Investigations on the Language Faculty. Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today (235). John Benjamins, pp. 195-212. ISBN 9789027257185

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1075/la.235.09ter


Studies on the language abilities in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have tended to include individuals across the spectrum, with the consequence that the ensuing picture is rarely clear. Most recent studies setting apart individuals at the lower end of the autism spectrum have discovered severe problems in certain areas of grammar. Investigation of grammatical abilities at the higher end of the spectrum has not identified severe problems so far, in an interesting contrast with the lower end. Here we report on current research on pronominal object clitics and their counterpart DPs, which demonstrates that, in some syntactic environments, high-functioning children with ASD fall behind typically developing children. We claim that this behavior does not reflect problems with syntax proper, but is a consequence of pragmatic shortcomings with consequences for the syntax-pragmatics interface. Errors of substitution of clitics with their corresponding DPs are likely to be caused by difficulties in detecting prominence in the discourse. Difficulties with Focused DPs are likely to be caused by problems in distinguishing old from new information and its mapping to prosody. Future research needs to investigate pragmatics, syntax and prosody independently, in order to reach solid conclusions regarding their interaction with respect to specific phenomena in autism, which, in turn, provides an ideal condition to test the contribution of each domain to these phenomena.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM)
ID Code:68299
Publisher:John Benjamins


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