The Pirahã tribe in the heart of the Amazon numbers only 360, spread in small groups over 300 miles. An exceptionally cheerful people, they live with a focus on immediacy, empiricism, and physical rigor that has shaped their unique language, claims linguist Daniel Everett.
The Pirahã language has no numbers or concept of counting (only terms for “relatively small” and “relatively large”); no kinship terms beyond immediate children and parents; no “left” and “right” (only “upriver” and “downriver”); no named distinction of past and future (only near time and far time); no creation stories or myths; and—most important for linguists—no recursion…
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