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Whistled speech in Spain and elsewhere.

  Tags: Spain
 Language Learning Forum : Cultural Experiences in Foreign Languages Post Reply
Joined 5002 days ago

25 posts - 46 votes
Speaks: English*

 Message 1 of 5
01 July 2011 at 10:03pm | IP Logged 
Tenerife, Spain.

Many of you will probably know that here in the Canaries we have a system of whistled
speech used by some of the inhabitants.
I and some friends regularly use it when we're too far apart for normal speech or
Similar systems exist in many parts of the world, such as in Turkey, Greece, Senegal,
The United States.
But I'm amazed by how little information or apparent interest there is on the subject
in the media, including the internet.
I figured that there would surely be some interest on this site, as I know that many of
you often dissect the finer details of many aspects of many languages.
Does anybody else here communicate by whistling, or have you ever seen it in use in the
various parts of the world where it has been practiced for hundreds and thousands of
I hope to visit some of these places next year, and would appreciate any information on

Best wishes,
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Senior Member
Joined 7095 days ago

563 posts - 757 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish

 Message 2 of 5
02 July 2011 at 4:15pm | IP Logged 

Why not search for whistled language in Wikipedia and Youtube.
Roger Whitaker was a whistling musician that was exposed to some of it in Kenya.
I posted on a thread about a documentary on whistling called "Pucker up and whistle."
There are various ways of whistling and one man in the show said he has strong lungs, possibly due to whistling so much. The Canary islands and Kusköy, Turkey were covered briefly.
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Joined 5002 days ago

25 posts - 46 votes
Speaks: English*

 Message 3 of 5
03 July 2011 at 11:52am | IP Logged 
I've just checked out Roger Whittaker and the Pucker Up documentary.
'Interesting stuff.
But again, they don't seem to focus on whistling as language (in articulated whistled
language nobody "puckers", or lip-whistles, but rather uses the tongue and teeth and
often a finger or two to produce a much louder and more variable sound).
Yes, I've also wikied and youtubed the subject and; apart from one very interesting but
very short clip from the BBC on the Turkish whistlers, all the little there is to be
found is on the Spanish whistling which I already know and practice.
Not one mention or video-clip did I find on the people who whistle in Greek (Greece),
Siberian (United States and Russia), or any of the various regional and tribal
languages whistled in Mexico, western Africa and so many other places.
I'm also amazed at how few people are interested in actually learning this quite unique
form of language.
Even on this site dedicated to language and languages the interest in learning (or even
finding out about) articulated whistling seems to be as close to nil as anywhere else.
I'd like to know why.
Is it that people feel that they'd never have any chance of learning it (which would be
far from the truth, as it's quite easy to learn) or is it that they don't really
believe it exists or works (which it certainly does, if only by very small minorities)
or maybe it's just that practically everybody (except yours truly) finds the whole
subject boring (while many are fascinated by such obscure subjects; as I also am, by
the way; as the vagaries and variations of velarisation of Russian or Gaelic
Who knows?

Best wishes,

3 persons have voted this message useful

Bilingual Diglot
Senior Member
https://talktagalog.Registered users can see my Skype Name
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172 posts - 240 votes 
Speaks: English*, Tagalog*
Studies: Spanish, Mandarin

 Message 4 of 5
02 September 2012 at 2:21pm | IP Logged 
Patchy, is this language Silbo? If you're inclined towards the idea, perhaps you could post a few videos on
YouTube of you or other people communicating in this whistled language. I for one would definitely be
interested in watching a short clip or listening to a recording of this whistled language.
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Joined 5002 days ago

25 posts - 46 votes
Speaks: English*

 Message 5 of 5
25 July 2017 at 2:11pm | IP Logged 
Yes indeed, the Spanish word for "whistle"
is "silbo", so that's how the Canarian
Whistle Language is often known as. I've got
a video of myself and some friends whistling
to each other on Spain's highest mountain,
in Africa. It's in Spanish, with plenty
whistling. You'll find it if you youtube the
words "silbando en Canarias".

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