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Dead Languages

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24343.  Sun Sep 18, 2005 3:47 pm Reply with quote

November 16, 2003
Whistling language on the Canary Islands
Near-Extinct ‘Whistling Language’ Returns. From an Associated Press article at Yahoo

SAN SEBASTIAN, Canary Islands - Juan Cabello takes pride in not using a cell phone or the Internet to communicate. Instead, he puckers up and whistles.

Cabello is a "silbador," until recently a dying breed on tiny, mountainous La Gomera, one of Spain's Canary Islands off West Africa. Like his father and grandfather before him, Cabello, 50, knows "Silbo Gomero," a language that's whistled, not spoken, and can be heard more than two miles away.

This chirpy brand of chatter is thought to have come over with early African settlers 2,500 years ago. Now, educators are working hard to save it from extinction by making schoolchildren study it up to age 14.

Silbo — the word comes from Spanish verb silbar, meaning to whistle — features four "vowels" and four "consonants" that can be strung together to form more than 4,000 words. It sounds just like bird conversation and Cabello says it has plenty of uses.

See also Wikipedia entry on "Whistled Speech". Might be fun if we could get a recording of this.

24355.  Mon Sep 19, 2005 6:48 am Reply with quote


BRILLIANT idea for a thread/question subject.


And I'd just started to get really worried that there aren't enough 'D's to fill a series...



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