Don T Sleep There Are Snakes Analysis

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Pachee Vang 9/30/14 Anthro 3800 Exam 1 Short essay: Don’t Sleep, There are Snakes Language is the backbone of the Piraha culture; hence there is no culture if there is no language. The Piraha has a very unique culture in which the language entails every aspect of the culture whether if it’s socially or spiritually etc. A factor that plays an important role in the culture is that they have something called the principle of immediacy which states that “formulaic language and actions that involve reference to non-witnessed events are avoided” (Everett 84). This means that they do not believe in the past or the future, but live in the present. They also do not have a counting system unlike many other cultures all over the world. This is because …show more content…

Chomsky’s theory says that “when we don’t hear displacement it is still there, at an abstract lever of grammar [called] logical form” (207). The Piraha language however reveals that there is no need for displacement or much modification for a message to be conveyed. The Piraha is an esoteric culture meaning that since they are such a small group of people, their language is constructed so that only they can be able to understand it, save for the few who are able to decipher it such as Everett. This means that grammar is not necessarily needed for one to understand the other. This then leads to the idea that the Piraha language does not have recursion or the ability to relate repeated items of the same structure. A Piraha sentence is short and straightforward, it does not have insert phrases to make a sentence longer or efficient. An example of this is from a Piraha, Kohoi, who was crafting arrows and needed some nails for the tip. He says to his son “Hey Paita, bring back some nails. Dan bought those very nails. They are the same.” (227). From this, we can see that there are no phrases inserted inside another sentence. Every sentence is said separately from another to convey a whole

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