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Re: Piraha & Dyscalculia

From:Jeffrey Henning <jeffrey@...>
Date:Monday, October 11, 2004, 15:59
Wikipedia says, "The Pirahã take short naps of 15 minutes to two hours
through the day and night, and rarely sleep through the night. They often go
hungry, not for want of food, but from a desire to be _tigisái_ ('hard')."

Since we're conjecturing about the causes, I wonder if their lack of a
normal sleep pattern has seriously affected their cognitive abilities.

Wikipedia also says, "The culture is concerned solely with matters that fall
within direct personal experience, and thus there is no history beyond
living memory."

From an evolutionary standpoint, it is clear that speakers of Pirahã are at
a dramatic disadvantage compared to cultures that do prize history -- those
other cultures can learn from the distant past, where speakers of Pirahã
don't have the opportunity.

It makes me wonder if Pirahã is the coelacanth of human languages.  Once
many human languages were like Pirahã, but their speakers were wiped out or
assimilated by speakers of more modern languages.

- Jeffrey