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

Daniel Everett
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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Dan Everett has written an excellent book. First, it is a very powerful autobiographical account of his stay with the Piraha in the jungles of the Amazon basin. Second, it is a brilliant piece of ethnographical description of life among the Piraha. And third, and perhaps most important in the long run, his data and his conclusions about the language of the Piraha run dead counter to the prevailing orthodoxy in linguistics. If he is right, he will permanently change our conception of human language (John Searle, Slusser Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley)

Dan Everett is the most interesting man I have ever met. This story about his life among the Pirahas is a fascinating read. His observations and claims about the culture and language of the Pirahas are astounding. Whether or not all of his hypotheses turn out to be correct, Everett has forced many researchers to re-evaluate basic assumptions about the relationship among culture, language and cognition. I strongly recommend the book (Edward Gibson, Professor of Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

A remarkable and often painful story of anthropological endeavour (Caroline Sanderson Bookseller)

Astonishing... a warm tribute to this people's unique way of seeing the world... full of wonder while conveying the fragility of the Piraha way (Waterstone's Books Quarterly 2008-09-01)

Fascinating (Kirkus 2008-10-01)

Fascinating and candid (Publisher's Weekly 2008-09-29)

Unforgettable (Booklist 2008-11-01)

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 2008-10-25)

Rigorous (Stuart Kelly Scotland on Sunday 2008-11-09)

Destined to become a classic of popular enthnography (David Papineau Independent 2008-11-14)

[A] remarkable book. It is written with an immediacy even a Piraha might envy, and its conjunction of physical and intellectual adventure is irresistible (John Carey Sunday Times 2008-11-23)

A fascinating physical and intellectual adventure (Giles Foden Conde Nast Traveller 2008-12-01)

Everett writes simply and persuasively about language... A fascinating thesis... his courage and conviction should give linguists pause for thought (Andrew Anthony Observer 2008-11-16)

An extraordinary work of will and perseverance... A groundbreaking and beautifully realised study (Sunday Business Post 2008-11-23)

Irresistible account of a missionay's intriguing discoveries about language (Must Reads Sunday Times 2008-12-14)

Part Swiss Family Robinson, part Robinson Crusoe, it's one the greatest stories you'll ever read (Tom Galvin Evening Herald 2008-11-29)

Book Description

Daniel Everett took his family to convert the Pirahas (pronounced pee-da-HAN), a remote people of the Amazonian jungle whose language no outsider had yet been able to understand. They encountered malaria, snakes, jaguars, spiders, insects, and a plot to kill them as they slept. But Everett gradually gained entry to this curious culture, and gave up trying to Christianise it. Along the way he discovered a language which disproved the most established tenets of linguistics.

About the Author

Daniel Everett was born in California. He lived for many years in the Amazon jungle and conducted research on over a dozen indigenous languages of Brazil. He has published on sound structure, grammar, meaning, culture and language. He has been the subject of endless controversy in academic circles and is currently Professor of Linguistics at Illinois State University.
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