Unique language discovered in south america

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Unique language discovered in south america

Postby adamscc » Tue Jun 09, 2009 2:55 pm

http://www.spiegel.de/international/spi ... 91,00.html

These people have no past tense, no numbers (or ability to grasp numbers) and no words for colors. They may be changing the way linguists view language development.

interesting video on them:
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Re: Unique language discovered in south america

Postby Shalashaska » Wed Jun 10, 2009 5:04 am

Discovered probably isn't the right word, the Pirahã have been studied for decades. But they certainly are fascinating to linguists and anthropologists alike. I'd recommend Everett's book, Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes, which is half ethnography half biography. He went there as a missionary who was out to change the Pirahã's culture, not understand it, and only interested in learning their language so he could translate the bible into it. After he saw how unique both their culture and their language was he ended up studying them as an ethnographer and linguist. And along the way he and his family were nearly killed on a few occassions, renounced his faith and became estranged from his friends and family. Good read.
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Re: Unique language discovered in south america

Postby jcohen » Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:54 am

So odd- and interesting.

I can't even imagine culture without stories.
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Re: Unique language discovered in south america

Postby Jazzdog » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:39 pm

That is pretty interesting.

I know Chomsky did a lot of work looking at how the biological construct of the brain influences the construct of language. And, also, in reverse, how you can study the workings of the mind by the way world languages are constructed. If I understand his work correctly, he found universals, relevant to all humans and their languages.

I wonder how big of an outlaying data point these people are.
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