Saturday, January 12, 2013

This Week's Language Study

Silbo gomero: A whistling language revived



A look inside a school on La Gomera where whistling is compulsory.

On a Spanish island, an ancient whistling language that once seemed to be dying out is now undergoing a revival.
The night has not yet fallen in La Gomera, one of the smallest Canary Islands.
From the top of the hill I can see, scattered in the distance, a few old houses. To my right, a row of black trees is a stark reminder of the fires that struck this Spanish island off the coast of Morocco last summer.
I close my eyes to avoid being distracted by the landscape and make an effort to hear. I'm trying to discern, among the echo of the wind and the noise from the cars that from time to time drive along the road, the sounds of silbo gomero or Gomeran whistle, an ancient language the locals have assured me is still in use.
This method of communication, in which the Spanish language is replaced by two whistled vowels and four consonants, has a peculiarity perfectly suited to this landscape of deep valleys and steep ravines. It has the ability to travel up to two miles (3.2km), much further and with less effort than shouting.
(If you'd like to read more of this article, click here.)

Thanks to Idaira (NA2) for bringing our attention to this article.

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