Review by Bruce Bower
Daniel Everett is no by-the-book linguist. If you read his new book, you’ll find out how Everett went from a 26-year-old missionary taking his family to live with and proselytize members of a remote Brazilian tribe to a major thorn in the side of influential language theorists. Along the way, he became immersed in the unusual culture and language of his Amazonian hosts, the Pirahã people. These deceptively simple folk transformed the missionary, not vice versa.
With straightforward writing, Everett explains how he decoded the mysterious Pirahã tongue during fieldwork that spanned 30 years. In that time, he became a full-fledged linguist with a résumé that included many colorful and harrowing jungle experiences. Everett recounts a desperate canoe and boat trip up the Amazon River to save his malaria-stricken wife and daughter, and a watery encounter with an anaconda. He