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Language

The Cultural Tool

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Paperback published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
For years, the prevailing opinion among academics has been that language is embedded in our genes, existing as an innate and instinctual part of us. In this bold and provocative study, linguist Daniel Everett argues that, like other tools, language was invented by humans and can be reinvented or lost. He shows how the evolution of different language forms—that is, different grammar—reflects how language is influenced by human societies and experiences, and how it expresses their great variety. Combining anthropology, primatology, computer science, philosophy, linguistics, psychology, and his own pioneering research with the Amazonian Pirahã, and using insights from many different languages and cultures, Everett presents an unprecedented elucidation of this society-defined nature of language. In doing so, he also gives us a new understanding of how we think and who we are.

 

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For years, the prevailing opinion among academics has been that language is embedded in our genes, existing as an innate and instinctual part of us. In this bold and provocative study, linguist Daniel Everett argues that, like other tools, language was invented by humans and can be reinvented or lost. He shows how the evolution of different language forms—that is, different grammar—reflects how language is influenced by human societies and experiences, and how it expresses their great variety. Combining anthropology, primatology, computer science, philosophy, linguistics, psychology, and his own pioneering research with the Amazonian Pirahã, and using insights from many different languages and cultures, Everett presents an unprecedented elucidation of this society-defined nature of language. In doing so, he also gives us a new understanding of how we think and who we are.

 

Product Details
Paperback (368 pages)
Published: December 11, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780307473806
Other books byDaniel L. Everett
  • Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes

    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. Daniel Everett arrived among the Pirahã with his wife and three young children hoping to convert the tribe to Christianity. Everett quickly became obsessed with their language and its cultural and linguistic implications. The Pirahã have no counting system, no fixed terms for color, no concept of war, and no personal property. Everett was so impressed with their peaceful way of life that he eventually lost faith in the God he'd hoped to introduce to them, and instead devoted his life to the science of linguistics. Part passionate memoir, part scientific exploration, Everett's life-changing tale is riveting look into the nature of language, thought, and life itself.

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