Don't Sleep, There are Snakes - Daniel Everett

Finished: 5/26/2021

Rating: 5*


  • It's crazy to think that the whole mission to learn their language, etc. was done by missionaries to teach the Bible to Indians.

  • It's so strange that he didn't just go along, but brought his entire family.

  • The story of him rushing with his family to the hospital is terrifying. And exciting.

  • I wonder how children learn the intricacies of the language, e.g. what an article really means and when to use it.

  • I wonder if his wife/daughter were ok with him putting the details of their diarrhea into writing and sharing with the world. It's nothing to be ashamed of or anything, but I would not have liked it.

  • Living in the moment, not thinking about the future - nice.

  • Not treating children much differently - nice.

  • No numbers, no quantifiers. Wow.

  • To orient themselves in a town, they need to know where the river is. Amazing.

  • Cognition-> Grammar (Chomsky) vs Grammar->Cognition (Linguistic relativity, Sapir–Whorf hypothesis).

  • Can only work in a single file, even in a city - nice.

  • The "debate" against Chomsky was a bit too much for the book, IMO.

  • The ending, about his missionary work and religion, was wonderful.

    • I wonder what happened to his family.

    • It must be very unpleasant to read if you are religious.

  • "'The women are afraid of Jesus. We do not want him.' 'Why not?' I asked, wondering what triggered this declaration. 'Because last night he came to our village and tried to have sex with our women. He chased them around the village, trying to stick his large penis into them.' Kaaxaooi proceeded to show me with his two hands held far apart how long Jesus's penis was - a good three feet."

  • Goodreads reviewers claim he constantly contradicts himself. Well, maybe.

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