Thursday, July 1, 2010
The Whistle in the Ossau valley
People across the world (have) use(d) complementary forms of language, clicking, whistling or hissing. Whistling allows communication at greater distances than the spoken voice, for example in the Pyrenees (once), the Canary Islands or Turkey. They can blend into the sounds of the forest, which served hunters. They are also used to hold "conversations in love", as in Southeast Asia (Hmong for example).
The Guanches, the ancient inhabitants of the Canary Islands, practiced, in addition to their usual talk, a whistled language, now known under the name of Gomera. This allowed them to communicate from valley to valley for several kilometers. The Gomera is still practiced by some Canarians trying to restore this language.
In the village of Aas, French Basque Country, the people were accustomed to communicate by whistling from one side of a valley to another. Indeed, the valley is a real waveguide, to use this mode of communication between the pasture and the village.
A language of the same type has existed in the Andean valleys. Today, their survival is attested by the work of bioacousticien Julien Meyer, who has initiated a network of cross-cultural collaboration on the subject.