Whistled Languages

1 hour ago, I was watching a documentary about one of the villages of Nothern Turkey: Kuşköy (the village of the birds). Then I’ve learned an amazing thing and I wanted share it with you asap! They use a whistled language! In this village, the source of income is agriculture. So when the man goes to the field, he whistles from a distant to ask for food or water. Similarly the woman answers from home in the same whistled language to tell the food would be there in 15 mins. I got really really amazed because I wasn’t aware that such a communication system exists. So, I googled it and see there are quite systematic whistled languages. The one that is used most common is the Silbo Gomera. It is the language of 22.000 habitants of Canary Island. Here is the description from UNESCO:

The whistled language of La Gomera Island in the Canaries, the Silbo Gomero, replicates the islanders’ habitual language (Castilian Spanish) with whistling. Handed down over centuries from master to pupil, it is the only whistled language in the world that is fully developed and practised by a large community (more than 22,000 inhabitants). The whistled language replaces each vowel or consonant with a whistling sound: two distinct whistles replace the five Spanish vowels, and there are four whistles for consonants. The whistles can be distinguished according to pitch and whether they are interrupted or continuous. With practice, whistlers can convey any message. Some local variations even point to their origin. Taught in schools since 1999, the Silbo Gomero is understood by almost all islanders and practised by the vast majority, particularly the elderly and the young. It is also used during festivities and ceremonies, including religious occasions. To prevent it from disappearing like the other whistled languages of the Canary Islands, it is important to do more for its transmission and promote the Silbo Gomero as intangible cultural heritage cherished by the inhabitants of La Gomera and the Canary Islands as a whole.

If you want to watch the official video about the Silbo Gomera:


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