- The authors of this comment are courteously critical of my proposal that culture constrains grammar in Pirahã. Their objections are three.
- First, since Pirahã obviously shares features with other grammars, then, they reason, since universal grammar is the only source available for such similarities, Pirahã cannot be a problem for universal grammar.
- Second, Piraha˜ clearly shows recursion, so how can I claim that it doesn’t have it?
- Third, they find my proposal that culture constrains grammar in Pirahã “daring” (a nice euphemism) — in other words, they are far from convinced.
- I will answer these in turn. I will also take this opportunity to answer a number of queries on the immediacy-of-experience principle proposed in my article so that the connection between culture and grammar will be clearer to syntacticians, naturally sceptical of such a connection.
Author’s Final Comment
- I am making no claims that Pirahã reasoning lacks recursion, for example. In fact, I would be shocked to learn that it did. But this recursion is lacking in the grammar.
- The crucial point again is that Pirahã culture constrains Pirahã grammar and that the lack of embedding, etc., follow from the cultural value in the immediacy-of-experience principle, showing that cultural forces may play an evolutionary role in shaping grammars.
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