Challenging Chomsky: Has a Remote Amazonian Language Changed our Understanding of Culture, Grammar, and Thinking? Daniel L. Everett

Monday, 29 Sep 2008 at 8:00 pm – Sun Room, MU

Daniel L. Everett has lived in jungle villages for more than 7 years of his life and has conducted field research every year since 1977, beginning with his move to a Pirahã village at the mouth of the Maici River in the Lowland Amazonia region in Brazil. His research has led him to the conclusion that Noam Chomsky's framework of universal grammar, the fundamental principle of recursion in particular, did not obtain in Pirahã. His 2005 article in Current Anthropology, titled "Cultural Constraints on Grammar and Cognition in Pirahã," has caused a controversy in the field of linguistics. He is Chair of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at Illinois State University. He is also Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the School of Languages, Linguistics, and Cultures at University of Manchester in Manchester, UK. His book, Don't Sleep, There are Snakes: Life and Language in the
Amazonian Jungle
, will be released internationally in November. The 2007-08 Quentin Johnson Lecture.
This lecture was made possible in part by the generosity of F. Wendell Miller, who left his entire estate jointly to Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. Mr. Miller, who died in 1995 at age 97, was born in Altoona, Illinois, grew up in Rockwell City, graduated from Grinnell College and Harvard Law School and practiced law in Des Moines and Chicago before returning to Rockwell City to manage his family's farm holdings and to practice law. His will helped to establish the F. Wendell Miller Trust, the annual earnings on which, in part, helped to support this activity.

Cosponsored By:
  • English
  • Interdisciplinary Program in Linguistics
  • LAS International Studies Program
  • LAS Miller Funds
  • World Languages and Cultures
  • Committee on Lectures (funded by Student Government)