My name is Dan Everett and I am a linguist, anthropologist, philosopher, and author of Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes and a dozen other books and I have a 15-year disagreement with Noam Chomsky. I am Professor of Cognitive Sciences at Bentley Univer...
Edit: I'm signing off now. Thanks to everyone for all your questions and kind words. I hope to do another AMA soon! If you want to learn more about language, linguistics, cognition, and culture, check out my podcast series: The Story of Language podcast with Dan Everett
Some of the things that you might want to ask me about are:
The four decades I have spent working on about 20 Amazonian languages, including living over 7 years in villages of the Pirahã people, along the Maici River in the Amazon jungle.
Jungle experiences, including attacks by large anacondas, Amazonian giant centipedes, Wandering spiders, jaguars, pumas, and so on. I also have had all three types of malaria of the Amazon multiple times, including once when I had malaria, vivax, and falciparum simultaneously.
I began my career in the Amazon as an evangelical protestant missionary but became an atheist, which caused severe problems in my family, and led to loss of employment as a missionary (who needs an atheist missionary?)
I have a 15-year running debate with Chomsky in which he (and others) have called me a charlatan, though many other linguists, anthropologists, and cognitive scientists agree with me. If I am right - I am - Chomsky’s principal theoretical works - that language is innate and that all human languages have recursive sentences, are wrong.
In my book Dark Matter of the Mind: The Culturally Articulated Unconscious, I created a “ranked-value” theory of culture and how culture and language build each other, a cognitive symbiosis.
My most recent book, How Language Began, argues that language is a human invention, that it is over 1.5, probably 2, million years ago. I have followed up on this with an archaeologist co-author, Dr. Larry Barham, in which we use data from tool construction and treatment to argue that Homo erectus had language. More and more data from many other scientists shows that language is far older than our species.