The Pirahã people

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The Pirahã people

#1  Postby divagreen » Jan 08, 2011 11:52 pm

These people fascinate me.

From Wikipedia:

Their language is a unique living language. (It's related to Mura, which is no longer spoken.) John Colapinto explains, "Unrelated to any other extant tongue, and based on just eight consonants and three vowels, Pirahã has one of the simplest sound systems known. Yet it possesses such a complex array of tones, stresses, and syllable lengths that its speakers can dispense with their vowels and consonants altogether and sing, hum, or whistle conversations."[2] Peter Gordon writes that the language has a very complex verb structure: "To the verb stem are appended up to 15 potential slots for morphological markers that encode aspectual notions such as whether events were witnessed, whether the speaker is certain of its occurrence, whether it is desired, whether it was proximal or distal, and so on. None of the markers encode features such as person, number, tense or gender."[8]
Curiously, although not unprecedentedly,[14] the language has no cardinal or ordinal numbers. Some researchers, such as Prof. Peter Gordon of Columbia University, claim that the Pirahã are incapable of learning numeracy. His colleague, Prof. Daniel L. Everett, on the other hand, argues that the Pirahã are cognitively capable of counting; they simply choose not to do so. They believe that their culture is complete and does not need anything from outside cultures. Everett says, "The crucial thing is that the Pirahã have not borrowed any numbers—and they want to learn to count. They asked me to give them classes in Brazilian numbers, so for eight months I spent an hour every night trying to teach them how to count. And it never got anywhere, except for a few of the children. Some of the children learned to do reasonably well, but as soon as anybody started to perform well, they were sent away from the classes. It was just a fun time to eat popcorn and watch me write things on the board."[4]
The language does not have words for precise numbers, but rather concepts for a small amount and a larger amount.
The language may have no unique words for color. There are no unanalyzable root words for color; the recorded color words recorded are all compounds like mi³i¹sai[4] or bi³i¹sai, "blood-like", which is not that uncommon.[citation needed]



[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNajfMZGnuo[/youtube]

Anybody else care to discuss these interesting people and their language?
I never did mind the little things.
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Re: The Pirahã people

#2  Postby cavarka9 » Mar 12, 2011 8:47 am

here I am, willing to know more
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Re: The Pirahã people

#3  Postby natselrox » Mar 12, 2011 8:49 am

Nom!

Thanks for starting the thread, diva! :smile:
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Re: The Pirahã people

#4  Postby cavarka9 » Mar 12, 2011 8:52 am

day after tomorrow, same time (Internet is free in office). Right now in cafe and have to go.

Will read, so make it as detailed a discussion as possible. :popcorn:

:grin:
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Re: The Pirahã people

#5  Postby Blip » Mar 12, 2011 11:34 am

Have you read 'Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes', Divagreen?
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Re: The Pirahã people

#6  Postby divagreen » Mar 14, 2011 5:27 am

There are people in this thread. :shock:

I am going to have regroup my thoughts.

Blip wrote:Have you read 'Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes', Divagreen?


No, I haven't Blip. Who is it by and I will put it on my to-read list. 8-)
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Re: The Pirahã people

#7  Postby cavarka9 » Mar 14, 2011 7:57 am

day after tomorrow has become today.
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Re: The Pirahã people

#8  Postby sennekuyl » Mar 14, 2011 8:31 am

:muse:
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Re: The Pirahã people

#9  Postby Blip » Mar 14, 2011 10:34 am

divagreen wrote:
Blip wrote:Have you read 'Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes', Divagreen?


No, I haven't Blip. Who is it by and I will put it on my to-read list. 8-)


Don't Sleep There Are Snakes is a must-read for you, given this very thread! :)

Meanwhile, this is about the Pirahã people.
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