1. ManicParroT
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    ManicParroT Contributing Member

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    Don't sleep, there are snakes

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by ManicParroT, Apr 16, 2009.

    That's the name of a book written by a chap called Daniel Everett, who's been living among the Piraha tribe in the Amazon basin of Brazil.

    Their spirits are interesting - according to Wikipedia, they include visible, tangible things, like trees or jaguars or whatever.

    One of the most bizarre aspects of the Piraha is their language, which is causing massive controversy among linguists.
    Apparently it doesn't have:

    Words for please, thank you or sorry.

    Numbers.

    Most controversially of all, they don't appear to have recursion. So, they can handle "That is red." They can handle "That is a butterfly." They will not say "That is a red butterfly."
    This has gotten the linguistic world all fired up, since Noam Chompsky argues that humans have a universal grammar, which definitely includes recursion.

    The whole thing's damn fascinating. The simple fact that they converted the missionary is simultaneously awesome and hilarious, given the terrible history of missionary interaction with people around the world.
     
  2. lessa
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    lessa Contributing Member

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    Instead, they brought him to atheism. "The Pirahãs have shown me that there is dignity and deep satisfaction in facing life and death without the comfort of heaven or the fear of hell and in sailing toward the great abyss with a smile."

    to my way of thinking this is not atheism.
    atheism means not believing in a god.
    these people believe in many gods.
    similar to the north american natives.

    I am sort of glad they say that the natives didn't become converted
    but converted the missionary.
    I get so sick of religious groups trying to convert me
    that I stick my heels in even harder.
    good for the tribe.
    will try and get a copy of the book it would make interesting reading.
     
  3. becca
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    becca New Member Contributor

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    It is very interesting. I could sit here and talk all day about possible effective ways of converting them, but that won't do anyone any good.

    They sound like a fasinating people. I just don't understand whey people think that they need to change. If they are happy with how their language works, then why get upset about it. Leave them alone. Apparently they are doing alright.

    I don't know what makes people think that their way is better than the way people have been living for God knows how long. Unless you are trying to better something to make someone's life better, like healing a disease, or share your faith because you genuinely care about the people/person, leave them alone! No one needs to have some dictator type telling them that they are wrong.

    That is the whole reason, that there was so much trouble when America was settled. The European's decided to save and change the Natives because they thought they were right about everything. If they would have befriended the Natives, and gotten to know them, and then presented Christ in a caring way, our country would be completely different. *sigh*
     
  4. Neha
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    Neha Beyond Infinity. Contributor

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    hey look at the bright side of not having words sorry or thank you...they really get into trouble for mistakes......and they have inner appreciation for gestures which require a thank you and please...oooh...kidding

    Okay, umm, wow! imagining how they must converse. I really need to get that book!
     
  5. sophie.
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    sophie. Contributing Member

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    I saw an article about this book in a magazine - it does look v. interesting

    And with the whole outcry over no 'please' and 'thank you' - I read that they didnt need these words as helping each other was second nature.

    And when people use 'sorry' 'thanks' etc in an insincere way, they might as well not say them at all..so the Piraha don't have that problem. :)
     
  6. Credulous Skeptic
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    Credulous Skeptic Member

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    I read about this tribe in a news magazine a few years ago. I cannot believe how fascinating their language is. You can apparently whistle anything that needs to be said if you use it.
     
  7. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    I think it would be refreshing to live in a culture where the development of a word that means 'sorry' never became necessary, and (I'll just go ahead and assume...) respect and appreciation was immediately granted to have allowed please and thank you to be equally unnecessary...

    And if the whistling thing is true, I'm there!

    I read recently that the Hopi Indian tribe have no tenses for past, present and future - I'm really quite fond of that concept. :)
     
  8. ValianceInEnd
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    ValianceInEnd Active Member

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    Coming from someone who is horrible with new languages, I'm going to have to heartily agree with you there. :p

    But this book really does sound quite interesting. The few remaining isolated tribes in the world are fascinating examples of completely untouched, alien cultures. I can't help but imagine what it would be like if I weren't born into the modern world, but amongst an isolated group such as this.

    Oh, and Kudos to them for converting that missionary. haha
     

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