Everett Lecture - A Rare Language
Daniel Everett Lecture - A Rare Language
By Nicolai Kammersgaard
On May 11, the American professor in linguistics Daniel Everett visited Aarhus University and gave a lecture for more than 100 people about the Pirahãs, which are a small Indian tribe of about 400 members who live in the Brazilian Amazonia. Everett, his former wife and the missionary they replaced are the only three foreigners in the world who speak the Pirahã language. The language can be spoken, hummed or whistled and is built up on 8 consonants and 3 vowels for men, while women use one consonant less. It does not have any recursion although the Pirahãs understand it. Besides that there are no numbers, words for directions, colors, past or future - instead they use other resources as “few/many” or certain things in the jungle to navigate, like the river.
Daniel Everett’s first meeting with the tribe was in 1977, when he and his family arrived to Amazonia to become missionaries. Through the years Everett learned the language - and although he and his family were seriously ill and the Pirahãs tried to kill them, they stayed - and ended up giving up his mission and began to work as a linguist instead. Through many transcriptions Everett realized that the language was not as other languages and he published an article saying that language is based on culture and is not something you are born with.
At the lecture, that was arranged by the Linguistic Department and the Brazilian Studies Department, the professor started by showing a movie about the Pirahãs, his meeting with them and the “war” with the author of the Universal Grammar theory, Noam Chomsky, who believes that all natural languages share some properties in common, that are innate. After the movie people shortly asked questions before Everett gave a lecture about his theory. The lecture finished with a lot of questions from the audience and I think that everybody went home a bit wiser about the world of linguistic and the Pirahã tribe.
In the movie Grammar of Happiness, which Daniel Everett showed at the lecture, there was a sequence in which it was showed that FUNAI would not let Everett visit the Pirahã tribe with the video crew. Therefore he created a video to say goodbye to the tribe in Pirahã and the video crew showed the movie to the tribe - who answered back to Everett by video as well. This situation has still not changed and Daniel Everett does not believe that he will ever be able to return to the tribe again.
For more on Daniel Everett please visit
11/08 - 2012 Dissapointing Result for the Brazilians
By Marc Vincent Klitgaard
Brazil met Mexico in the Olympic Games Soccer final. The star and wizard Neymar has shown us many times, that he knows what to do with a ball, but in this match he wasn’t allowed to do any magic – none of the players were.
Not until the second half of the match were there any goals, but Mexico ended up winning the Olympic Finals in Men’s Soccer 2-1 against the top team of Brazil. It is a shame for Brazil, since some people believes that a curse rests upon Brazil – they haven’t been able to win an Olympic Final. Only silver and bronze medals to have ever been won by Brazil.
Thursday, 09/08 – 2012
Julia Machado, Ph. D student AU - "Luiz
Gonzaga in the Brazilian Cinema" &
Peter Poulsen, Translator – "Translation of the Word 'Sertão' into Danish.
Julia Machado, a Ph. D student at Aarhus University gave the audience an outstanding overview of how the musician Luiz Gonzaga became a character and an icon in the Brazilian society in the 20th century. She showed an interesting video of Luiz Gonzaga constructing his character - inspired by the nomadic bandits (Os Cangaceiros) who were terrorizing the northern part of the country in the 19th and 20th century - by putting on the three elements (hat, cowboy leather jacket and harmonica)that became most typical of him.
All in all, it was a very interesting lecture that combined literary knowledge, historical facts and entertainment.
After Julia Machado's lecture, the widely known and experienced translator Peter Poulsen gave us an informative and touching lecture about the problems with translating the Brazilian word 'sertão' into Danish. The word 'sertão' appears in the workGrande Sertão: Veredas by João Guimarães Rosa – the translation of this book took four years to be finished. The word is a very specific Brazilian term that refers to the dry and dusty backlands in the northeastern part of Brazil, but which involves much more than that, specially the feeling of nation.
Peter Poulsen told us how even many Brazilians find the work very hard to read and how he, when started reading the novel, felt that he was slowly entering another world or planet.
Furthermore, he told us about his trips to Brazil to see the landscapes he was describing. He explained how, during the travel and the work, he felt that the Brazilian soul and spirit were mixing with his own and how a Danish 'sertão' slowly grew out of the translated work – the translator had, by the virtue of the translation, created a Danish understanding of the word 'sertão'. Peter Poulsen by saying this concluded that every time a work is translated into another language it is born again. And he ended the lecture saying:
“After translating this book, I find that Riobaldo's (the main character's) soul has been mixed with my own – hopefully forever.”
Afterwards, the audience had the pleasure to hear the experienced translator read a bit of his Danish translation of Grande Sertão: Veredas – called “Djævelen på Vejen”.
The World of Jorge Amado/ Jorge Amado and the
Hi Everyone. If you are interested in seeing pictures of the Celebration of Jorge Amado in London click on "Photo Gallery" in the top and choose the album
Tuesday 29/09 – 2012
Celebration of Jorge Amado in London
By Nicolai Kammersgaard
This August it will be 100 years since the famous Brazilian writer Jorge Amado was born.
On this occasion, British Library, on Friday the 8th of June, holds a conference in London called “The world of Jorge Amado”.
There will be several speakers from Brazil including Ana Maria Machado, João Ubaldo Ribeiro and Roberto DaMatta as well as the visiting Harvard professor Kenneth Maxwell. They will talk about inter-relationship among race, national identity and literature in Brazil.
Jorge Amado was born at a poor farm in the state of Bahia and through his life he wrote about the difficult and the slave-like conditions the people working in the farms had. Jorge Amado became popular quite quickly, but his works gave him enemies in the military dictatorship, who burnt his books publically. Besides he was imprisoned several times.
Jorge Amado is translated into 49 languages and his books have been published in 55 countries and adapted into films, television programs and theatrical works. Most famous is the movie from 1976 “Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos” (“Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands”), but also his book “Capitães da Areia” (“Captains of the Sand”), published in 1937, has recently (2011) been adapted into a movie directed by his granddaughter to celebrate 10 years of his death and the beginning of the centennial of his birth.
The Foreign Lecturer at the department of Brazilian Studies at Aarhus University, Fernanda Gláucia Pinto, and the Associate Professor, Vinicius M. de Carvalho, will participate in the conference.
For more information about the event please visit:
Tuesday, 15/09 – 2012
End of Semester
By Daniel Schmidt
Here at Aarhus University we have had a busy time with many exciting things to do. We have had lectures on the 26-27th of April, because we were celebrating one of the greatest musicians from Brazil, Luis Gonzaga. On this occasion students from 2nd semester made a presentation by reading up a poem in front of all the guests. There were many things to do, but one of them, which gave a big impression, was the documentary with Luis Gonzaga, and, of course, the session with Forró, led by Fernanda, the foreign lecturer at Brazilian Studies. Here we are now, doing our exams and preparing for the summer, when we can relax and travel, before the new semester starts in September - with a lot of new challenges!
02/03 – 2012
A Journal for Brazilian Studies
A new Journal absolutly dedicated for Brazilian Studies. You can have an academic discussion, exhange ideas, and draw on each others' research within the field of Brazilian studies. The Journal also includes a section to publishing call for conference papers, news about courses and seminars, as well as interviews with peopæe important to the development of Brazilian studies. So check it out on the link below.