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Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes

Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle
Narrated by: Daniel Everett
Length: 10 hrs and 45 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (181 ratings)

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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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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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 of 6 people found this review helpful

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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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent first person diary from the amazonas

It is a story of a missionary and scientist (linguistic) that repeatedly visited a tribe in the amazon during 30 years, with and without his family. He tells stories of incidents and life with the tribe.

I personally loved the way he tells his different experiences. The tribe thinks so differently than westerns and even compeletely differently than Brazilians. May of the stories are well told and are fascinating. Daniel also describes the development of the language and how he learned it with the years.

I think Daniel is an excellent story teller and a good narrator, Recording could me more consistent but who cares? you will not notice that among the story telling and the way he pronounce the language.
Highly recommended!

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Don't Sleep

This was fascinating, and had very little to do with the author's beliefs and deconversion, but rather was mostly about his interactions with the Pirahãs. There was quite a bit of technical linguistic discussion, which I loved. Daniel seems very intelligent and learned. He has a very gentle and non-judgemental way of discussing issues. I think his theories about culture and language make much more sense than Chomsky's.

At times it wasn't totally clear where a particular story was going. I think it could have benefiting from editing. The narration was ok but there were some glaring mistakes and stumblings.

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Amazing Book and Audio

What an interesting book. I’ve told several friends. Having the author do the reading is great because learning the language means the pronunciation is more accurate than if I tried reading it alone.

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Fascinating, Eye-Opening

Fascinating, eye-opening account of language and culture. As someone learning another (totally different) language, this book also had the unexpected effect of furthering my perspective of how grammar works across cultures. The story about the village’s reaction to ‘finding’ Jesus is a true standout.

I only wish the final section weren’t bogged down with a lengthy scientific attack on other linguistic credos. He may be right, but it reads as a little desperate. Still, these asides open backdoors to educate about various aspects of language, so they don’t detract too much.

Narration is uniquely valuable, as the author and narrator was also the man who went on this journey. Hearing his pronunciation of the language lends an authenticity that couldn’t be attained by simply reading. [AUDIBLE]

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  • Daureen
  • 01-12-20

wierd

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

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-26-19

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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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr M C Arthur
  • 09-28-17

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-01-19

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
  • 09-29-19

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
  • 08-02-18

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.