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Publisher's Summary

Daniel 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.

©2008 Daniel L. Everett (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Rich account of fieldwork among a tribe of hunter-gatherers in Brazil.... Everett's experiences and findings fairly explode from these pages and will reverberate in the minds of readers." ( Kirkus)

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  • Jared
  • 19-07-17

Hear Pirahã

Read by Daniel Everett himself you really get to appreciate the use of pitch, tones, rhythm, and other nuances in the Pirahã's unique language. You also can hear his feelings as he reads particularly emotional parts. Touching and surprisingly funny this is an amazing work.

6 people found this helpful

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  • james
  • 24-01-19

Fascinating Story but Distracting Narration

This is a fascinating book about amazing experience. I loved the information conveyed. But the author self-narrated and it is clearly not his strong suit. Many listeners may find the pauses and mumbled last sentences distracting. But it is worth it to hear the story

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-03-18

A Story Told by the Man Himself

Dan is the only one who could tell this story. What a thought provoking and powerful tale. He takes you into the universe of a culture that does not carry anything with them from the past besides instincts. Essentially the Piraha tribe in the Rain Forest of Brazil are an ancient, unchanged people, with an extremely unique language, and many lessons to teach us. Daniel Everett dedicated over 30 years of his life to learning them, and teaching us.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Joshua Brewer
  • 16-11-17

A Profound Read

I give most of the books I listen too five stars because they are good books. I would like to give this book at least six since it is exceptionally insightful. This book contains a stories about life in the Amazon, Everett and his family adjusting to living in a village and the dangers everyone in that location encounters. Mostly this is a book introducing the reader to a new language and culture. Everett's main proposed theory of language is that to fully understand a language you have understand the cultural context it came from. As a result we are shown a culture radically different from ours. Attached to this is a distinct way to think, different from the way westerners are used to thinking. Everything about this book was profound. Certainly worth the read.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 23-04-18

Something different

Daniel Everett is an extraordiary man with a extraordinary tale. Meet the Pirahã indians with a cuture so different from anything you ever imagined and a language that has leading linguistic scholars totally baffeled. It's intriguing, funny, exciting and humbling to listen to. Perfect as an audiobook (due to the central role of the Pinahã language... you get to hear it spoken) read by Daniel Everett.

1 person found this helpful

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  • khaledalyami001
  • 18-06-17

Great book

This book was fantastic. I like the way it was written starting from its style of organization, to its engaging plot, to its main argument against the Chomkian point of view. I believe that the writer has put great evidence to support his theory stating that language is not innate but rather a cultural tool created by humans.

1 person found this helpful

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  • villads
  • 19-04-21

Probably the best audio book in the world!

This book is brilliant. Such a interesting story and for anybody interested in languages it is amazing as he really explains how different world views are understood through language. The author is reading him self so you can hear him speak the native language of the peoples he has lived with.

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  • Miguette Sansegundo
  • 19-03-21

Two good chapters

The last chapter was interesting. The technical details of linguistics was interesting. The rest was a missionary story. It was grossly problematic. Repugnant

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  • LaTavia Jenkins
  • 19-12-20

Was Very Helpful

I purchased this audiobook because it was given as an assignment for a class and I was unable to purchase the physical hard copy. Being able to listen to the book read by the actual author while also getting house work done was very efficient and helpful. I am also a very slow reader and am very great full that I was able to get the entire book finished in 2 days and write the 3 reviews over it.

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  • Sheila
  • 10-12-20

Captivating

This book isn't for everyone. My husband and I both founf it quite interesting for the most part probably mostly due to our experiences as missionaries in the west African country of Mali. Still, for anyone with and interest in linguistics and especially the complexities of communicating cross cultually, I would recommend a read.

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  • David Bailey
  • 21-09-20

Absolutely phenomenal

This story is something which should be taught in schools today. From the intense accounts of daily pira ha life, to the technical linguistics of the language.

If you want to learn about what it truly means to be happy in life, then this is the book for you.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-03-19

Beautiful. Mind opening And educational

Beautiful. Mind opening And educational

This book has changed my perspective on people, society and culture. The people referred to here have challenged my own perspectives and blessed me

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  • Mr M C Arthur
  • 28-09-17

A linguistic journey into the nature of existence

A journey into the heart of being through the study of linguistics. At times I found the passages using the native language a bit dry and repetitive. It was definitely worth sticking with it, however, as the lessons about the relationship between language, culture and finding happiness and meaning in life were enlightening.

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  • Daureen
  • 12-01-20

wierd

No specific story line never got into it. A bitty journal that didn't catch my attention

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-11-19

reccomend if you're into language

A very insightful and interesting look at how language and culture play a role within one another

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-09-19

Fascinating!

One of the most interesting books I've ever read/listened to and such a privilege to hear Daniel read his own work - nice personal touch. Extraordinary book about one man's extraordinary work and life experiences

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  • Adam
  • 02-08-18

Important and Intriguiung

Having Daniel explain his story in his own words was tremendous. Very few foreigners could've elucidated the Piraha, if any! Hearing Daniel iterate sentences in Piraha, takes us to the sandy banks of the Maici and Amazonia, amongst Cayman and Anaconda. The story itself follows his missionary journey, family in tow, battling the elements, the strange customs of the forest dwelling tribe and eventually his own faith. The second third of the book can get heavy, filling language novices in on grammatical pointers, making the Piraha language unique in the whole world. this might bore any non linguaphiles out there but the argument is compiling.