A groundbreaking and controversial new theory about how we talk
Like other tools, language was invented, can be reinvented or lost, and shows significant variation across cultures. It's as essential to survival as fire - and, like fire, is found in all human societies.Languagepresents the bold and controversial idea that language is not an innate component of the brain, as has been famously argued by Chomsky and Pinker. Rather, it's a cultural tool which varies much more across different societies than the innateness view suggests.Fusing adventure, anthropology, linguistics and psychology, and drawing on Everett's pioneering research with the Amazonian Pirahãs,Languageargues that language is embedded within - and is inseparable from - its specific culture. This book is like a fire that will generate much light. And much heat.
Daniel Everett is Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bentley University in Massachusetts. Previously, he was Chair of the department of languages, literatures and cultures at Illinois State University. He is the author ofDon't Sleep, There Are Snakes[9781846680403, Profile].
'The most important - and provocative - anthropological field work ever undertaken', Tom Wolfe
'Controversial, driven by data from across the sciences, and leavened with wit -Language: The Cultural Toolis the book on language I have been waiting and waiting for. A masterpiece, and then some', Patricia S. Churchland
'A must-read for anyone having an interest in knowing what makes us human', Patricia S. Churchland
'The most recent and most eloquent account of a remarkable sea change that is taking place in our understanding of the nature of human language', Michael Corballis
'This is exciting work. I learned a tremendous amount from it, as will anyone who is concerned with the nature of language and of mind', Robert Brandom
'Thoughtfully reflecting on the communicative ecologies of the Amazonian peoples among whom he has lived and worked, Dan Everett mounts an impassioned argument that language has adaptively emerged as our species'"tool"for achieving social collectivity via discourse', Michael Silverstein
'A radical reassessment of the origin and evolution of language....The book eloquently reminds us that the incredible diversity of languages on this planet reflect different ways of thinking and being in the world - a phenomenon that might sadly be on the verge of extinction', Robert Greene
'A book whose importance is almost impossible to overstate. This is an intellectual cri de coeur and a profound celebration of human diversity ... A very rich but also very readable book', Brian Appleyard, Sunday Times
'Revelatory. There is nothing about humans that is quite as astonishing as language', Guardian
'Impressively modest and reasoned ... deserves a serious reading', Economist
'A very good read ... a most lively introduction', Times Higher Educational Supplement