Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes

Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes

Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle

Book - 2008
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A riveting account of the astonishing experiences and discoveries made by linguist Daniel Everett while he lived with the Pirahã, a small tribe of Amazonian Indians in central Brazil.

Everett, then a Christian missionary, arrived among the Pirahã in 1977--with his wife and three young children--intending to convert them. What he found was a language that defies all existing linguistic theories and reflects a way of life that evades contemporary understanding: The Pirahã have no counting system and no fixed terms for color. They have no concept of war or of personal property. They live entirely in the present. Everett became obsessed with their language and its cultural and linguistic implications, and with the remarkable contentment with which they live--so much so that he eventually lost his faith in the God he'd hoped to introduce to them.

Over three decades, Everett spent a total of seven years among the Pirahã, and his account of this lasting sojourn is an engrossing exploration of language that questions modern linguistic theory. It is also an anthropological investigation, an adventure story, and a riveting memoir of a life profoundly affected by exposure to a different culture. Written with extraordinary acuity, sensitivity, and openness, it is fascinating from first to last, rich with unparalleled insight into the nature of language, thought, and life itself.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2008
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780375425028
Branch Call Number: 305.8989 Eve
Characteristics: xviii, 283 p. : ill


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SPPL_János Mar 15, 2018

Arriving as a missionary among the Pirahã, an Amazonian Indian group, Everett encountered a people who have no creation myths or fiction, and whose language lacks greetings, numbers, colors, and embedded sentences. Nevertheless they are extremely happy and friendly and supremely adapted to their rainforest environment. Everett recounts his adventures and discoveries living among the Pirahã for much of the last 30 years, which led him to question and reject not only mainstream linguistic theory but his Christianity as well.

Jun 07, 2017

This book combines travelogue, ethnological study, linguistics treatise, personal narrative of faith and the loss thereof, and fascinating insights into the cognition and life-ways of some strikingly different humans. Worth the read.

ChristchurchLib Aug 12, 2013

"In this "fascinating and candid account" (Publishers Weekly), field linguist Dan Everett relates his amazing adventures living with the Pirahã people, who reside deep in the rainforests of Brazil, and learning their unique language. Everett, who started off as a Christian missionary hoping to convert the native people, first met members of the small Pirahã tribe in 1977 when he began a path that would alter both his life (Would his marriage survive? Would his faith?) and modern linguistics (Everett's findings differ from what experts such as Noam Chomsky have theorised). If you love words, we bet that this powerfully written book will speak to you." August 2013 Armchair Travel newsletter

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