Don't Sleep, There are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle

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Don't Sleep, There are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle

Don't Sleep, There are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle

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Everett is initially shocked at how indifferent the Pirahas seem when his wife and daughter are dangerously ill, shouting after him to bring supplies when he sets off on a nightmare trip to find medical help.

He shares many details I found interesting such as how they make their bows and arrows, their use of exocentric navigational orientation, and hum speech, to name a few. Noam Chomsky and his adherents especially have a lot at stake since Chomsky's entire theory of human language rests on the idea of recursion. Their way of life was the same as it was 1,000 years ago, and would remain the same for the next 1,000 years. UG (Chomsky) or The Language Instinct (Pinker) claims that human's ability to learn languages is innate, because all languages share some underlying common "grammar" whose "parameters" (e.They always had everything they needed, and life was more or less grand, hence the smiles and laughter.

Everyone was streaked from ashes and dust accumulated by sleeping and sitting on the ground near the fire. While most anthropologists would consider this a significant event, Everett refers to it in parentheses. Sleepers became a playground for dozens of three-inch cockroaches (annoyances), and were often joined by eight-inch roach-eating tarantulas (beloved allies).This is described as a major challenge to Chomsky’s theory of universal grammar, since it is recursion that allows for the formation of an infinite number of sentences. The hardship that I was experiencing, so out of the ordinary for me, was just everyday misfortune to all the passengers on this ship. The core of the book is Everett’s discussion on the Pirahã language, which he says is unrelated to any other (although it was once part of a wider language family, all the others now being extinct) and which he describes as “profoundly unusual”.

Everett spent much of 30 years among the Pirahã (1977-2006), arriving long before the happiness study was published. That this plan may not succeed is indicated in the prologue, where he is woken by Pirahas anxious about the presence of an evil spirit on the beach. Most of the study seems to have been conducted on male pirahã even though he alludes to the fact women speak differently.But that means they would miss out on American English if they had no concept of the internet or television.

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