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

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9780375425028: Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle

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.

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Review:

Destined to become a classic (David Papineau The Independent)

Everett writes simply and persuasively about language ... a fascinating thesis ... his courage and conviction should give linguists pause for thought (Andrew Anthony Guardian)

A remarkable book. It is written with an immediacy even a Pirahã might envy, and its conjunction of physical and intellectual adventure is irresistible (John Carey Sunday Times)

This is an astonishing book: a work of exploration, into the most distant place and language, but also a revelation of the way language is shaped by thought and circumstance. (Ben Macintyre The Times)

Fascinating ( The Times 2009-08-08)

"Going native" has seldom led to a book as challenging and appealing as this memoir (Boyd Tonkin Independent 2009-09-11)

Thorough, thought-provoking ... vivid details are combined with broader questions (Anita Sethi Independent on Sunday 2009-09-20)

Quite extraordinary ( Sunday Tribune 2009-08-23)

Book Description:

'An astonishing book: a work of exploration, into the most distant place and language, but also a revelation of the way language is shaped by thought and circumstance' The Times

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Everett, Daniel L.
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