Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 11/3/2009
  • Publisher: Vintage

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $59!
    Your order must be $59 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
  • We Buy This Book Back!
    In-Store Credit: $0.53
    Check/Direct Deposit: $0.50
List Price: $16.00 Save up to $5.60
  • Rent Book $10.40
    Add to Cart Free Shipping


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
  • The Rental copy of this book is not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


Daniel Everett recounts the astonishing experiences and discoveries he made while he lived with the Pirah, a small tribe of Amazonian Indians in central Brazil.

Author Biography

Daniel L. Everett is the Chair of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Illinois State University.

From the Hardcover edition.

Table of Contents

Some Notes on the Pirahă Language as Used in This Bookp. XI
Prefacep. XIII
Prologuep. XV
Discovering the World of the Pirahăsp. 3
The Amazonp. 23
he Cost of Discipleshipp. 31
Sometimes You Make Mistakesp. 58
Material Culture and the Absence of Ritualp. 71
Families and Communityp. 85
Nature and the Immediacy of Experiencep. 115
A Teenager Named Túkaaga: Murder and Societyp. 143
Land to Live Freep. 150
Caboclos: Vignettes of Amazonian Brazilian Lifep. 159
Changing Channels with Pirahă Soundsp. 117
Pirahă Wordsp. 192
How Much Grammar Do People Need?p. 202
Values and Talking: The Partnership between Language and Culturep. 209
Recursion: Language as a Matrioshka Dollp. 224
Crooked Heads and Straight Heads: Perspectives on Language and Truthp. 244
Converting the Missionaryp. 263
Epilogue: Why Care about Other Cultures and Languages?p. 275
Acknowledgmentsp. 281
Indexp. 285
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.



“Look! There he is, Xigagaí, the spirit.”
“Yes, I can see him. He is threatening us.”
“Everybody, come see Xigagaí. Quickly! He is on the beach!”

I roused from my deep sleep, not sure if I was dreaming or hearing this conversation. It was 6:30 on a Saturday morning in August, the dry season of 1980. The sun was shining, but not yet too hot. A breeze was blowing up from the Maici River in front of my modest hut in a clearing on the bank. I opened my eyes and saw the palm thatch above me, its original yellow graying from years of dust and soot. My dwelling was flanked by two smaller Pirahã huts of similar construction, where lived Xahoábisi, Kóhoibiíihíai, and their families.

Mornings among the Pirahãs, so many mornings, I picked up the faint smell of smoke drifting from their cook fires, and the warmth of the Brazilian sun on my face, its rays softened by my mosquito net. Children were usually laughing, chasing one another, or noisily crying to nurse, the sounds reverberating through the village. Dogs were barking. Often when I first opened my eyes, groggily coming out of a dream, a Pirahã child or sometimes even an adult would be staring at me from between the paxiuba palm slats that served as siding for my large hut. This morning was different.

I was now completely conscious, awakened by the noise and shouts of Pirahãs. I sat up and looked around. A crowd was gathering about twenty feet from my bed on the high bank of the Maici, and all were energetically gesticulating and yelling. Everyone was focused on the beach just across the river from my house. I got out of bed to get a better look—and because there was no way to sleep through the noise.

I picked my gym shorts off the floor and checked to make sure that there were no tarantulas, scorpions, centipedes, or other undesirables in them. Pulling them on, I slipped into my flip- flops and headed out the door. The Pirahãs were loosely bunched on the riverbank just to the right of my house. Their excitement was growing. I could see mothers running down the path, their infants trying to hold breasts in their mouths.

The women wore the same sleeveless, collarless, midlength dresses they worked and slept in, stained a dark brown from dirt and smoke. The men wore gym shorts or loincloths. None of the men were carrying their bows and arrows. That was a relief. Prepubescent children were naked, their skin leathery from exposure to the elements. The babies’ bottoms were calloused from scooting across the ground, a mode of locomotion that for some reason they prefer to crawling. Everyone was streaked from ashes and dust accumulated by sleeping and sitting on the ground near the fire.

It was still around seventy- two degrees, though humid, far below the hundred- degree- plus heat of midday. I was rubbing the sleep from my eyes. I turned to Kóhoi, my principal language teacher, and asked, “What’s up?” He was standing to my right, his strong, brown, lean body
tensed from what he was looking at.

“Don’t you see him over there?” he asked impatiently. “Xigagaí, one of the beings that lives above the clouds, is standing on the beach yelling at us, telling us he will kill us if we go to the jungle.”

“Where?” I asked. “I don’t see him.”

“Right there!” Kóhoi snapped, looking intently toward the middle of the apparently empty beach.

“In the jungle behind the beach?”

“No! There on the beach. Look!” he replied with exasperation.

In the jungle with the Pirahãs I regularly failed to see wildlife they saw. My inexperienced eyes just weren’t able to see as theirs did.

But this was different. Even I could tell that there was nothing on that white, sand

Excerpted from Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle by Daniel L. Everett
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Rewards Program

Write a Review