If we draw a large triangle and embed smaller triangles in it, how does it look? All the smaller triangles fit into the larger one, occupy less space and absorb more meaning. In the same manner if we embed small phrases or clauses in a sentence and use it to communicate our ideas, opinions and perceptions it keeps our communication simple and short. This embedding is called as recursion. Chomsky says that recursion is the corner stone of every language that is spoken on this earth. So in a way it is absolute universal. Recursion enables the speakers to be thrifty in their words and express their views by embedding many meaningful phrases into a single sentence. Recursion helps us in generating infinite number of expressions by using finite number of Language resources that are available. If language lacks the quality of recursion we would be forced to use tiny expressions to put across our ideas. So more number of expressions are required and the whole process of communication becomes very cumbersome. This characteristic helps us in communicating things in a simple and short manner.
But missionary linguist called Daniel Everett, who was trained by ‘Summer Institute of Linguistics’ and sent to Amazonian rain forest to proselytize a tribe called Piranha disputed the theory of recursion. Daniel Everett who lived a large part of his life with the Piranhas managed to master the language. His mission was to learn the Piranha language, translate the Bible into Piranha and convert the tribe into Christianity. But as he kept observing their life style he really got impressed by their philosophy and instead of converting them into Christianity he lost his own faith in Christianity. The life style and the way they think are unique and they are the ones who lead the happiest lives on this earth. They don't think about tomorrow, they always live in present, they don't have the habit of preserving or storing food for future use, they don't believe in God, in fact they believe anything only after they see it with their own eyes or described by a fellow tribes man who saw it.
Daniel Everett claimed that the theory of recursion which was considered to be the corner stone of all the languages has been found missing in Piranha language and the members of this tribe use tiny expressions to communicate. They do not have a number system and they do not even have words to represent colors. If the recursion theory is the cornerstone of all the languages it must be considered as an absolute universal, in other words this quality must feature in all the languages spoken on this earth. As Piranha language does not feature this characteristic, Daniel Everett disputed Chomsky's emphasis on the theory of recursion and the theory of Universal Grammar. In the book he authored which got rave reviews "Don't Sleep There are Snakes" he revealed that Piranha language proves Chomskyan theory of the existence of absolute language universals wrong to a great extent.
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