How did the First Language Begin? The Mystery of the Pirahã

From What I’ve Learned .

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0:00 – Location affects how languages sound?
1:26 – Language is complex and difficult, even for babies. Does that mean it must be prewired? Or could we have invented it?
3:10 – If language "evolved," what were the steps it took? [Enter indexes]
4:01 – Icons
5:07 – Symbols
7:31 – What about grammar? | Language is a gestalt: importance of culture, gestures, intonation…
10:11 – The recursion controversy. What is recursion? Why is it a big deal that Pirahã lacks it?
11:32 – Is the lack of recursion an example supporting the idea that languages are an evolved invention?
15:00 – "immediacy of experience" principle
16:09 – What if you lacked numbers?
17:00 – "So the point is…"

Big thanks to Daniel Everett (no relation) for speaking with me over Skype and answering several follow up questions I had about the Pirahã, their language and the ideas presented in his books. Check out for more information.

Link to Transcript with sources (PDF file @ this link)


Books Mentioned:
"How Language Began" –
"Don’t Sleep, There are Snakes" –

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