Language : The Cultural Tool

3.61 (337 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 9-14 business days.

Not ordering to the United States? Click here.


Like other tools, language was invented, can be reinvented or lost, and shows significant variation across cultures. It's as essential to survival as fire - and, like fire, is found in all human societies.

Language presents the bold and controversial idea that language is not an innate component of the brain, as has been famously argued by Chomsky and Pinker. Rather, it's a cultural tool which varies much more across different societies than the innateness view suggests.

Fusing adventure, anthropology, linguistics and psychology, and drawing on Everett's pioneering research with the Amazonian Pirahas, Language argues that language is embedded within - and is inseparable from - its specific culture. This book is like a fire that will generate much light. And much heat.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 125 x 200 x 20mm | 292g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 1846682681
  • 9781846682681
  • 212,371

Review quote

Impressively modest and reasoned ... deserves a serious reading * Economist * Revelatory. There is nothing about humans that is quite as astonishing as language * Guardian * A book whose importance is almost impossible to overstate. This is an intellectual cri de coeur and a profound celebration of human diversity ... A very rich but also very readable book * Sunday Times * The most important - and provocative - anthropological field work ever undertaken -- Tom Wolfe Controversial, driven by data from across the sciences, and leavened with wit - Language: The Cultural Tool is the book on language I have been waiting and waiting for. A masterpiece, and then some -- Patricia S. Churchland A must-read for anyone having an interest in knowing what makes us human -- Patricia S. Churchland The most recent and most eloquent account of a remarkable sea change that is taking place in our understanding of the nature of human language -- Michael Corballis This is exciting work. I learned a tremendous amount from it, as will anyone who is concerned with the nature of language and of mind -- Robert Brandom Thoughtfully reflecting on the communicative ecologies of the Amazonian peoples among whom he has lived and worked, Dan Everett mounts an impassioned argument that language has adaptively emerged as our species' "tool" for achieving social collectivity via discourse -- Michael Silverstein A radical reassessment of the origin and evolution of language....The book eloquently reminds us that the incredible diversity of languages on this planet reflect different ways of thinking and being in the world - a phenomenon that might sadly be on the verge of extinction -- Robert Greene A very good read ... a most lively introduction * Times Higher Educational Supplement *
show more

About Daniel Everett

Daniel Everett is Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bentley University in Massachusetts. Previously, he was Chair of the department of languages, literatures and cultures at Illinois State University. He is the author of Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes [9781846680403, Profile].
show more

Rating details

337 ratings
3.61 out of 5 stars
5 18% (61)
4 39% (130)
3 32% (107)
2 9% (31)
1 2% (8)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X