This nearly had the title “A Tale of Two Languages“. A couple weeks ago I was watching a rerun on the Smithsonian channel about the Pirahã of Brazil and Daniel Everett. It immediately reminded me of the cultures of El Beni in Bolivia, and particularly, the Sirionó. The similarities and differences are striking.
There’s something you may not know about me. At one time I worked with the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now known as SIL International) and its sister organization, the Wycliffe Bible Translators (now called the Wycliffe Global Alliance), both founded by William Townsend. For those unfamiliar with Bible history, Wycliffe was the first to translate the Bible (Vulgate version) into Middle English in 1382, and he was a constant thorn in the side of the Holy See. The purpose of the organizations is to study and document lesser-known languages and to translate the Bible (especially the New Testament and Gospels) into the local languages for the edification and enlightenment of the natives. Yes, I was one of them, but my excuse was to aid in studying and recording languages before they became extinct and because it was something I truly enjoyed.