Time? What’s that? Brazilian tribe has no dates or ages

The Amondava people of Brazil do not have words for “time”, “week”, “month” or “year” – and nobody has an age.

Instead, their world is divided into day and night and wet and dry seasons.

Professor Chris Sinha of the University of Portsmouth, who led the study, said: “Time does not exist in the same way as it does for us. They live in a world of events, rather than seeing events as being embedded with time.”

Time was previously thought to have been a concept found in all cultures.

The tribe was first contacted by the outside world in 1986, and has adopted some western trappings like clothing. They have learned Portuguese and there are fears their own language is dying.

The language of the tribe is able to describe events in time, but is powerless to describe time itself as a separate concept. This discovery has caused controversy, so scientists continue research to find out if it applies to languages other Indian tribes of the Amazon basin.

Civilization first came to the Indians Amondava in 1986, and now British scientists at the University of Portsmouth, along with their Brazilian counterparts from the Federal University of Rondônia began working on the problem of displaying the time in their language. “We would not say that these are people without the time or outside time. Amondava, like any other, can talk about events in their sequence,” – said professor of psychology at the University of Portsmouth Language Chris Sinha.

“But what we did not find, so this concept of time, which would not depend on current events,” – he said. For example, if the vast majority of languages of other nations have an idea about the events occurring over time, then Amondava understanding of this passage of time, which continues regardless of these events, just not.

The language has no word Amondava time, as well as designations such periods as the month and year. Amondava people do not mention their ages. Just passing from one period of his life to another, or changing their status in the tribe, Indian Amondava changes its name.

But most intriguing is the lack of language Amondava display time flow of spatial tools. Simply put, the carriers of many world languages use expressions such as “this event is behind us” or “before it.” But in the language Amondava similar designs available.
“That does not mean that such a map – beyond the cognitive abilities of humans. It just means that in their daily life they do not have to use it” – said Professor Singh. More so that more and more Indians Amondava learn Portuguese, adopted in Brazil. And the master applied to it the concept of space and time without much difficulty.

According to scientists, the virtual absence in the language of Indian notions of time due to lack of meters time in their life: the system calendar clock. And this factor, in turn, is explained poorly designed, like other such tribes, numbering system, which is caused by a rudimentary idea of the number.

But these arguments do not convince the linguist and theoretician of French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Pierre Pica, who is studying the Amazonian language Munduruku.

“The attempt to link the quantity, physical time, tenses, mood and space in a kind of uniform and consistent system seems hopeless to me” – he said. According to Dr. Pick, linguistic diversity, with whom he has known, does not give him grounds for such communications.

The work of British and Brazilian scientists are very interesting, but if they did not reveal the Indians show the time by space, then it does not mean that they have any, none at all, said the Frenchman. Small language groups living in confined spaces, such as Amondava typically use general terms to refer to particulars. For example, they need not a common word is the river, because they do not know of other rivers, except the river, near where they live and assigned his own, a friendly to each other, name.

In other words, Amondava may well be aware of yourself moving through time and simultaneously moving in space, but their language is not required to reflect this is the means by which we are accustomed, “says Peak.

This scientific dispute will be resolved by further research, I am sure Professor Sinha. Scientists should make haste to the Indians, while their language is not extinct, because soon the tribe will make up the majority of people who grew up with the idea of the standard calendar system.

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