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Universal Grammar Argument

Language Development

Michael Tomasello's Arguments Against the Universal Grammar Theory


Michael Tomasello’s argument against UG


  • The hypothesis that Grammar is Universal does not have much strength. It is not well defined, it is difficult to test which means just because it hasn’t been proven wrong doesn’t mean it can’t be it is just a difficult hypothesis to test.


  •  Also, even though it is not well defined, theorists who have tried to define it have not been able to come up with a universal definition and the definitions that have been used differ greatly.


  • Michael Tomasello has several arguments against the theory of universal grammar. He states that universal grammar does not identify with what the innate abilities actually consist of, and it fails to explain how deaf children create their own language, and almost any language can be forced into pretty much any model of explanation.


  • Arguments for universal grammar are borrowed from the argument based on the theory of biological innateness.


  • Michael Tomasello's major argument is that the universal Grammar hypothesis does not relate to how children's competence in other areas of cognitive development progresses.


  • Michael Tomasello simply wants to know what is included in universal language, what types of innateness is responsible for it and how can it be disproved.