Every once in a while nature gives us insight into the human condition by
providing us with a unique case whose special properties illuminate the
species as a whole. Christopher is such an example. Despite disabilities
which mean that everyday tasks are burdensome chores, Christopher is a
linguistic wonder who can read, write, speak, understand and translate more
than twenty languages. On some tests he shows a severely low IQ, hinting at
ineducability, yet his English language ability indicates an IQ in excess of
120 (a level more than sufficient to enter university). Christopher is a
savant, someone with an island of startling talent in a sea of inability.
This book documents his learning of British Sign Language, casting light on
the modularity of cognition, the modality neutrality of the language
faculty, the structure of memory, the grammar of signed language and the
nature of the human mind.