Trailer ¿ Language PDF by Î Daniel L. Everett Three and a half stars, rounded up for the author s enthusiasm for the subject There is often something dense and ponderous about books about linguistics maybe it s the meta project of using Language to discuss language, maybe linguists just like to talk and this book is no exception This book in part seems to have been written as an answer to Steven Pinker s The Language Instinct How the Mind Creates Language, to argue against a built in , genetic ability Language and for Language being a cultural invention It does a much better of job when arguing for than against, and it does its best when discussing how Language and culture intertwine.
Ever since the times of Wilhelm von Humboldt, linguists have known that each Language has its own unique set of grammatical rules What can these rules be In the 1950s a German linguist said, Languages can differ from each other without limit and in unpredictable ways Noam Chomsky disagrees he believes that the grammar of each human Language is a variation of the same universal grammar, which would be apparent to a Martian linguist, just as it would be apparent to a Martian biologist that all life on Earth uses the same genetic code with small variations Chomsky spent his scientific career coming up with the rules of this universal grammar with each decade, these rules have been becoming ever ornate An erstwhile Chomskyan and an erstwhile Christian, Eve A very informative book about Language Is it genetic or a tool Everett says tool He talks a lot about ian tribes I can tell he doesn t like fat people I also slightly question his attitude toward women.
Did not like this, seemed to be a biased rambling argument, long on obvious generalities about the importance of culture and short in facts about how the universality of Language might emerge anew in the human cognitive system.
This book makes the opposite point of The Language Instinct Here, the differences between languages are pointed out as evidence that Language is just something we make up and share with each other as an invented tool, rather than something instinctive The author lived for years among the Piraha Indians originally as a missionary and so is speaking from personal knowledge when he says that the Piraha lack any number words, color words, or recursive grammatical constructions On the other hand, they can all speak a sign language, a whistle language, and a hum Language that are all distinct forms of communication.
Apparently when English speakers have to communicate with gestures, we tend to use a subject object verb order.
The Piraha, as a tiny group in a sea of other people, have the idea that their customs are right for them, but that
A decent, readable book on the nature of Language that succeeds in exploring a lot of interesting ideas about how Language is acquired and used Unfortunately, though, Everett s argumentation is often unfocussed and discursive, and I often found myself wondering what point he was really trying to make in this book His main target throughout seems to be nativism the idea that language, or the cognitive capacities that lead to language, is somehow innate but the target of his invective is largely a strawman, and not representative of any position that I ve ever encountered in any linguistic theory Take, for example, this quote from page 70 It has not been established that there are any genes specific to Language What we do know from genetic studies so far is that there are gen There is interesting information in the book, and about every 75 pages or so, the author makes an observation that is thrillingly cool He studied Brazilian jungle tribes for their culture and language, and Everett includes some of the results which are naturally fascinating The Piraha, for example, do not have words for colors or numbers He makes a case that despite not having the words, the tribe can think, to some degree, using concepts involving counting or colors The author also makes the point that we cannot judge a culture for inferiority or superiority He briefly covers every major idea about language, but primarily those which he disagrees with.
The first half of the book refutes the various arguments and theories on the acquisition of Language that other linguists have posited since the 1950 s, particularly the theories about human instincts for l Everett gibt in dem Buch ein paar interessante Einblicke in die Kultur und Sprachen einiger as Indianerst mme Dies ist allerdings nur ein Nebeneffekt Eigentlich ist das Ziel des Buches, die wechselseitige Beeinflussung von Sprache und Kultur aufzuzeigen Hierbei geht es ihm insbesondere darum, die nativistischen Linguisten um Chomsky und seine Universalgrammatik zu widerlegen Auch geht er auf die Sapir Whorf Theorie eun, nach der die Sprache unser Denken bestimmt Gelingt ihm sein Vorhaben Das w rde ich mit einem klaren Jein beantworten Er, zeigt auf jeden Fall die Schw chen und Schwierigkeiten auf, die dem Konzept einer angeborenen Grammatik innewohnt, und er macht ziemlich klar, weshalb man Sprache als erlerntes Werkzeug betrachten sollte Auf der anderen Seite ist er
Everett s style is very approachable and the book is a clean read, good for the novice In fact, I think my biggest complaint is that Everett glosses too much and doesn t always give detailed support for his arguments He is focused on disproving the nativist Chomskyian theory much than proposing any theory of his own One of my complaints with DSTAS was that his argument was too extreme focused on Language as environmentally determined at the expense of admitting that there may be any biological component I was satisfied here to see that he ac A Bold And Provocative Study That Presents Language Not As An Innate Component Of The Brain As Most Linguists Do But As An Essential Tool Unique To Each Culture Worldwide 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 But 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 For Example, The Ian Pirah Put Words Together In Ways That Violate Our Long Held Under Standing Of How Language Works, And Pirah Grammar Expresses Complex Ideas Very Differently Than English Grammar Does Drawing On The Wari Language Of Brazil, Everett Explains That Speakers Of All Languages, In Constructing Their Stories, Omit Things That All Members Of The Culture Understand In Addition, Everett Discusses How Some Cultures Can Get By Without Words For Numbers Or Counting, Without Verbs For To Say Or To Give, Illustrating How The Very Nature Of What S Important In A Language Is Culturally Determined Combining Anthropology, Primatology, Computer Science, Philosophy, Linguistics, Psychology, And His Own Pioneering And Adventurous Research With The Ian Pirah , And Using Insights From Many Different Languages And Cultures, Everett Gives Us 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