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Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes

320 pages, 2009

biographies & memoirs

biographies & memoirs

997 books

Linguist Daniel Everett lived with a small tribe of Amazonian Indians in central Brazil, and his experiences and discoveries led to a new way of looking at language. He arrived with his wife and three young children intending to convert the people to Christianity, but he found that their language defied all linguistic theories and reflected a way of life that evaded understanding: The Pirahã have no counting system and no fixed terms for color. They have no concept of war or personal property. They live entirely in the present. 

Everett became obsessed with their language and its cultural implications, and with their remarkable contentment with their way of life, so much so that he eventually lost his faith in the God he’d hoped to introduce to them.

The Power of Language

In 'Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes', Daniel Everett explores the fascinating world of the Pirahã tribe and their unique language. He shows us how language can shape our perception of the world and influence our culture. It's a great read if you're interested in linguistics or anthropology.

Cultural Differences

Everett's book gives us a glimpse into the lives of the Pirahã tribe, a group of people with a culture vastly different from ours. It's a reminder that there's no 'right' or 'wrong' way to live, just different perspectives shaped by our environments and experiences.

The Importance of Adaptation

Everett had to adapt to the Pirahã's way of life to understand their language and culture. His experiences show us the importance of being open-minded and adaptable when faced with unfamiliar situations. It's a lesson we can apply in our own lives when dealing with change or new experiences.

The Influence of Environment

The book shows how the Pirahã's environment has shaped their language and culture. For example, their language doesn't have words for numbers or colors, reflecting their simple lifestyle. It's a fascinating look into how our surroundings can influence our way of life.

The Challenge of Communication

Everett's struggles to learn the Pirahã language highlight the challenges of communication. It's a reminder of the importance of patience and understanding when trying to communicate with others, especially when there's a language barrier.

Quotes 5

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.

Steven PinkerSteven Pinker - Cognitive Psychologist

Daniel Everett's book is a riveting read and raises questions about language, culture, and the nature of our mental lives that will keep you up at night.

Tom WolfeTom Wolfe - American Author

Everett's experiences and studies of the Pirahã language challenge our understanding of the relationship between culture and grammar.

Noam ChomskyNoam Chomsky - Linguist, Philosopher

Everett's book is a fascinating, provocative, and soulful exploration of the very nature of language itself.

John McWhorterJohn McWhorter - Linguist, Academic

Everett's book is a major contribution to our understanding of human nature and culture. It is a fascinating read.

Derek BickertonDerek Bickerton - Linguist, Scholar
Steven PinkerTom WolfeNoam ChomskyJohn McWhorterDerek Bickerton


Scott Young

Scott Young


Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes found in libraries

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