Dan Everett’s new book, Don’t Sleep There are Snakes is now available in the UK – and it’s been selected to be Radio 4’s Book of the Week for the week of 17th November. That’s all next week, Monday to Friday, at 9.45 to 10am, or else you can listen online for up to a week after the broadcast: Book of the Week.
Everett has worked on a Brazilian language known as Pirahã, and is most famous for his arguments about what the Pirahã data tell us about the nature of human language in general. One particularly controversial aspect of his claims is that this is a language which does not show the syntactic property of recursion, but many other aspects of what he reports about Pirahã have also provoked intense discussion among linguists.
He was interviewed on Excess Baggage on 8th November (not sure how much longer it’ll be available, but try listening again here.) And if you fancy a bit of clicking around to find out more, there’s a long but fascinating article in the New Yorker from last year (The Interpreter), a more recent interview in the Guardian related to the book, and a discussion on Language Log with a link to all their other posts about Everett and his work (The Straight Ones). Also of course there are his academic journal articles, including:
- Everett (2005), ‘Cultural Constraints on Grammar and Cognition in Pirahã: Another Look at the Design Features of Human Language.’ Current Anthropology 46 (4): 621-646
- Everett (2005), ‘Biology and language: a consideration of alternatives.’ Journal of Linguistics 41: 157-175
- Everett (2006), ‘Biology and language: response to Anderson & Lightfoot.’ Journal of Linguistics 42: 385-393
The endorsements on his new book according to its Amazon listing come from John Searle and Edward Gibson – both scholars whose work I find extremely valuable. Can’t wait to read it.