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Re: A strange tongue

__/ [ Peter H.M. Brooks ] on Monday 08 May 2006 04:46 \__

> Lance wrote:
>> A colleague comments:
>> "The accompanying experiment, which must remain as a thought
>> experiment, is for a western child to be raised but a Pirahã family -
>> would that child be capable of learning arithmetic and western grammar
>> as an adult?  I speculate that it could not."
> Thank you for that - it makes a lot of sense. I read the article in the
> New Scientist and, too, thought that it wasn't credible, but I couldn't
> put my finger on why.

One part which I thought lacked credibility was this:

,----[ Quote ]
| During one of his first visits, in the late 1970s, he began to 
| understand what the tribespeople were saying. It was a rude awakening.
| Eavesdropping one night, desperately trying to piece together what
| little he knew of their words, he realised with a shock that the warriors,
| marching along the banks of the river, were planning nothing less than
| to murder him by moonlight.

Of course, the only one to tell the story would be Dan Everett. It is only
expected to be self-glorification that twists the story as to become
self-flattering, in my humble opinion.

> Your colleague is, essentially, saying that they are feral children who
> have developed a sort of pidgin (not a creole even). It makes some sort
> of sense, but, for it to have remained like that over a couple of
> generations would be odd unless there was also some other factor at
> work. So, either this tribe have arrived at this condition very recently
> (over the past few decades) or they have some sort of congenital or
> environmental brain disorder - perhaps there is something in the water
> or they're head hunters.

That's unnecessarily derogatory, don't you think? Comments like this lead to
stereotypes and prejudice.

Best wishes,


Roy S. Schestowitz      | Useful fact: close elevator button = Express Mode
http://Schestowitz.com  |    SuSE Linux     ¦     PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E
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