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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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. He learns that the tribe has no clear plurals in their language or even any words for numbers (not even the one, two, three). Although, as in all societies there were exceptions to the rule, this is still my impression of the Pirahas after all these years. Instead, enlightenment comes to him through his studies of the Pirahas and their intriguing language and culture. On our furlough, I thought again of the challenge of the missionary: to convince a happy, satisfied people that they are lost and need Jesus as their personal saviour.

His dad looked at him and after a moment of silence offered a solution: "Let's go kill her, then," he said, with apparent sincerity. It was still around seventy- two degrees, though humid, far below the hundred- degree- plus heat of midday. Eventually he leaves his religion as well, and his life with the Piraha seems to have a lot to do with it.Even though the author, Everett, is a linguist and even though he makes reference to linguistic concepts throughout this section, he's writing for a general audience, so anyone should be able to follow this section just fine. But it wasn’t true, it’s been heavily challenged since and it seems the Hopi’s concepts are much like everyone else’s after all. I'm not going to comment on the linguistic debate other than to say that the more controversial and polemical it is, the more entertaining it is.

There was a curious contradiction between his latter description of the Piraha as not needing what he had originally gone to share with them ie.

Everett gives a wonderful sense of life among the tribe, and of those great little moments which show exactly how similar and how different we all are: from the time the men killed the anaconda for the sole purpose of leaving it in the river where the women bathed and scaring them, to the time the tribe kills a baby Everett's family was trying to save because its mother had died and it "wanted to die" too.

And I can look at some of those old men (old like me) who once threatened to kill me and recognize some of the dearest friends I have ever had—men who would now risk their lives for me. However their different culture, stresses/tones, and singing in conversation makes their language one of the hardest to learn.

And a good storyteller would not assume his readers understand the significance of "recursion" or interrupt a personal anecdote with page after page of technical discourse. I had gone to the Pirahãs to tell them about Jesus…, to give them an opportunity to choose purpose over pointlessness, to choose life over death, to choose joy and faith over despair and fear, to choose heaven over hell. It is forbidden to copy anything for publication elsewhere without written permission from the copyright holder. Similarly, Dan can’t get the references — he’s not part of the in-crowd — if his behavior is so different than the Piraha. Certainly an easy view to take of the Pirahas based on their language and culture is that it is more primitive: most of them couldn’t really learn to count, and they don’t have ways to talk about abstract ideas.

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.He claims the people have no cosmology or formal religious structure but describes men entering the village who act and are treated as if they are possessed by spirits and he describes being unable to see a spirit which all other members of the village point out standing across the river. Chomsky's "hypothesis" (not even hypothesis, since it's untestable) has been put to the test against other languages, such as Warlpiri, and has failed - everybody knows that. Someone like me, who has a Western worldview, finds it hard to imagine living life without say, counting and numbers. We keep being told that the happiest people in the world live in Finland, Denmark and other rich nordic countries.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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