, August 23, 2009
(view all comments by Jason Straight)
Imagine a language with no numbers, no colors, no cardinal directions; imagine a people with no leaders, who rarely sleep, and have no gods or creation myths. You would be envisioning the Pihara and their language. In Don't Sleep, There are Snakes, Dan Everett provides a fascinating account of his life among the Piraha people and his long process to learn their language and culture. Everett provides an entertaining and enlightening account of a way of a unique way of life, in the process he takes the accepted wisdom of modern linguistics to the cleaners, chipping away at the foundation of Chomsky universal grammar. Don't Sleep also provides the personal account of a one time Christian missionary, who rethought the universe and his place in it after confronting a people whose view of the world caused him to question his own. If you are at all interested in language, traditional culture, anthropology, or merely in need of some enlightenment, read this book.