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Savants

The term savant is borrowed from the French as a derivative of the verb savoir, which means “to know.” Savant means “learned person” or “eminent scholar” and it has been in circulation in English with a similar meaning since the 1800s. Its first use as part of the phrase idiot savant is jointly attributed to John Langdon Down, the physician who also identified the genetic disorder known as Down syndrome, and to Alfred Binet, the inventor of first intelligence test. Down first used the term idiot savant in 1887 to describe 10 cases of extraordinary individuals whom he encountered during his 30 years as the superintendent of London's Earlswood Asylum. In 1905, Alfred Binet also used the term idiot savant to describe cognitively impaired ...

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