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Michael Tomasello

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Michael Tomasello, born on January 18, 1950 in Bartow (Florida/USA), the co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutional Anthropology in Leipzig, is a cognitive psychologist.

He works with the psycholinguistics of children's language and defends cognitive linguistics. He is an outspoken critic of Noam Chomsky's generative grammar, rejecting the idea that any linguistic structure is universal (or based on innate knowledge) and instead proposing a usage-based theory (sometimes called the social-pragmatic approach to language acquisition) in which children learn linguistic structures through social-communicative and cognitive processes, such as joint attention.

Tomasello's recent work has focused on the development of social cognition in children, such as the ability to imitate and act jointly with others. He and his colleagues have also compared human social reasoning with that of apes.

He was awarded the Jean Nicod Prize in Paris in May 2006.

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