An interview in which I discuss serious problems with the very concept of Universal Grammar.
In August 2016, author Tom Wolfe published a book , The Kingdom of Speech, in which he discusses the work of four major figures in the history of the sciences of evolution and language. These are Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, Noam Chomsky and myself. He also wrote an article for Harper’s Magazine that outlines his take on my debate with Chomsky (click here to read).
I have been listed as a producer on Blessid, a local indie film. It is a suspense drama about a pregnant woman who forms a bond with a man who is immortal. At its core, Blessid is an anti-suicide film with a message of self forgiveness. I was contacted by the filmmaker because there is one part near the climax of the film that was inspired by my experience in the Amazon explaining the concept of suicide to the Piraha. He had discovered the anecdote on the Internet in his research of suicide – to him, there was no better anti-suicide message than suicide being “laughable” as life is so precious (and the Piraha did laugh at the idea that one would kill themselves).
The film is slated for release on July 22, 2016 on Amazon Video. Watch the official trailer and read more: http://blessidthemovie.com/
Simple8, a theatre company based in London, has produced a play based on my book Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes. It opened March 22, 2016 and there have been great reviews so far in The Times, London Theatre, The Reviews Hub, and What’s on Stage, to name a few, plus an interview with the actor who plays me. More information is available on the Simple8 site as well as the Park Theatre site, and a copy of the program is available here.
“Dark Matter of the Mind: How Unseen Forces Shape our Words and World” for the University of Chicago Press, for release in late 2014.
I gave a solo talk on this subject in May of 2014 at the HowTheLightGetsIn festival, an initiative of the Institute of Arts and Ideas, in Hay-on-Wye, United Kingdom. Click here to watch the video.
Thomas Hobbes believed life before civilisation was nasty, brutish and short. From diets to lifestyles, some anthropologists think otherwise. Did hunter gatherers have a better grasp on life? Should we look toward today’s tribal societies to see how to live, or is this a romantic delusion?
BBC documentary maker Bruce Parry, myself and bioethicist Sarah Chan contemplate humanity’s past and present with Oxford philosopher Janet Radcliffe-Richards. Watch our debate on life in traditional societies.
I have been invited to go back and participate in next year’s HowTheLightGetsIn Festival. Learn more about 2015’s event.
Our first intensive writer’s retreat was held in New York City in mid-April, 2013 with Liu Sola, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dmitry Glukhovsky and myself. Grethe Holby, far right, is the producer. Here’s a great photo of our team:
I have had the honor and privilege of joining Ardea Arts and the Family Opera Initiative in developing the extraordinary children’s book The Three Astronauts for the stage as a contemporary American opera-musical. In the book, by world-renowned author, political philosopher and semiotician Umberto Eco, and by revered Italian visual artist Eugenio Carmi, an American, a Russian, and a Chinese astronaut take off separately in their rockets to Mars. Each wants to be the first; they all land at the same time. The story of how they evolve from enemies that do not share a common language into allies and then how they confront the ultimate “other” (the Martian) showcases the difficulty of communicating across cultural and language barriers and addresses a very important issue: How do we reach beyond ourselves? Click here for official booklet.
I am part of a team that includes Pulitzer prize-winning poets, best-selling authors, brilliant composers and astonishing musicians. The Martian language component of the libretto is what I am creating; it will be inspired by Piraha.
This book was edited by Gordon Hardy, Senior Associate Director of Content, Communication and Creative Services at Bentley University, and myself and addresses Bentley’s undergraduate business education.
Creation of Bentley’s forward-thinking curriculum was the result of an innovative, cross-disciplinary effort by the business and arts & sciences faculties that is now documented in this book. Faculty members created a collection of chapters, each arguing for and demonstrating the integration of business and the arts and sciences- the “Bentley way”.
- How Language BeganSeptember 29, 2016 - 1:52 am
- Dark Matter of the MindMarch 15, 2016 - 1:29 pm
- Language the Cultural ToolApril 30, 2014 - 3:03 pm
- Don’t Sleep There are SnakesApril 29, 2014 - 3:16 pm
- Shaping the Future of Business EducationApril 27, 2014 - 2:24 pm
- Linguistic FieldworkApril 26, 2014 - 3:04 pm
- Why There are no CliticsApril 25, 2014 - 3:12 pm
- The Journal of Amazonian LanguagesApril 24, 2014 - 3:04 pm
- WariApril 20, 2014 - 1:50 pm
- A Lingua Piraha e a Teoria da SintaxeApril 18, 2014 - 3:09 pm
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My TEDx San Francisco talk on How language began is now available for viewing.
Blog: Dark Matter of the Mind
- Thoughts on DiversityJune 26, 2017 - 12:21 pm
My newest article appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education on April 30, 2017. “In a Pirahã village along the Maici River in Brazil, I squeezed mustard onto a piece of bread. An old woman from the village watched me. “Why do you eat bird shit?,” she asked. There was irritation in her voice. Then […]
- Translation for an interesting Piraha textMarch 6, 2017 - 6:10 pm
Sept. 29 A MFX3 (younger guy) 0001C6.MP4 00:00:17 Ti baabihia saagoai ‘Am I getting ill?’ (joking comment made by Kaiowa to himself as he waits) 00:00:25 Dan to Kaiowa: Baihiigi ‘(taping) goes slowly’ Kaiowa to Dan: Xai baihiigi. Xaio. ‘Yeah. Slowly. That’s right.’
- A discussion of “Understanding Recursion and Looking for Self-Embedding in Pirahã”December 19, 2016 - 1:52 pm
A discussion of Understanding Recursion and Looking for Self-Embedding in Pirahã, by Raiane Oliveira Salles, Pontifícia Universidade Católica of Rio de Janeiro. http://www.maxwell.vrac.puc-rio.br/26480/26480.PDF In the decades since I began field research on the Pirahã language, in December of 1977, 39 years ago, no one else has done any descriptive linguistics field research on this language. Brazilian […]
- Who’s afraid of the big bad Wolfe? Apparently everyone.October 4, 2016 - 12:24 pm
Gibberish meets Wolfe: Recursion is Just a State of Mind Tom Wolfe’s new book, The Kingdom of Speech, continues to be the object of scathing reviews on blogs, in comments, and even in newspaper articles by linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, journalists, and evolutionary biologists – often people with some belief that the views of Noam Chomsky […]