Whistled love poem
Linguist and bioacoustician (CNRS) Fascinante parole sifflée!
The Occitan version whistled
Interpretation performed by Laurent Disnard, member of "Siular d'Aas".
Thanks to Philippe Biu, who teaches whistled language
as part of his Occitan course at the University of Pau.
Pau is the only university in Europe where the whistling language is taught.
Whistled spanish (silbo)
Whistler and coordinator of the Silbo Gomero
Teaching Project, on the Gomera island in Canary
The whistled language of the Gomera island is called silbo!
Silbo is an intangible cultural heritage of humanity!
→ Poem the mirror ←
This is certainly the first love poem in the world to be whistled! Two versions have been whistled, the french original and the Occitan translation. I thought that even if originally my poem is visual, the way it took with all these translations, took it to other countries... so why not in a whistled language ... whistle for her... without knowing if "translate" her in a whistled language would be possible. I realized that it is.
In the Alpes and Pyrenees, echo of mountains has the virtue of mirror reflections, and whatever the way which bring and send back the words... light or sound waves... her silhouette appears...
More than any other interpretation I would like that the four little verses at the origin of all of this, do not take second place, because it is them, born of the oldest feelings, which are at the genesis of all on this website.
We have from ancient times evidence concerning the whistled languages (Herodotus). In fact, men have always used whistling to communicate, when it became obvious because of the environment (mountains, forests). There are still places in the world where we can meet whistlers, places where people try to preserve this wealth. The nearest are in the Pyrenees in Aas, where whistling is even taught in schools, in the Canaries on the Gomera island where it is called Silbo, in Greece on the Euboea island in Antia, in Turkey. In fact whistled languages are practiced everywhere: Amazonia, Papua, Siberia, China, Atlas etc. It should be noted that in Aas the renewal of the whistled language, is based on the records we own, added by the procedures learned with the silbo in Gomera.
"Too incongruous sentences are the limits of the whistled language. It is not possible to whistle all the phonemes of the spoken language. The same whistled phoneme can represent several phonemes of the spoken language (especially consonants), generating homonyms that are detrimental to comprehension. It is the context that illuminates the meaning of words. If this context is not logical, the recipient may be too confused to understand the message. Thus it will be very difficult or impossible to understand a sentence like: "I have two green herrings swimming in my sink". On the other hand "I caught this morning two trout in the gave, with Pierre I ate them accompanied by a glass of Jurançon", is an easily understandable sentence." (Philippe Biu)
We know for sure that the silbo was already practiced by the indigenous people of the Gomera island when the first Europeans arrived. For a long time, and until the middle of the 20th century silbo remained the only mode of communication used on the island for long distance exchanges.
This substitute of the phonological system of the Spanish language is of great interest for linguistic studies. The Gomeros, men and women, whistle exactly what they say, they transpose the spoken language into a whistled language, with the difficulty of reducing vowels and consonants, because not all can be whistled. In this way, one can whistle, more or less easily, any natural language spoken in the world. Silbo has played a vital role in the daily life development on the island's because it allows to send and receive messages instantly over long distances, sometimes as much as five kilometers, avoiding effort and time spent by several hours of walking.
In the second half of the 20th century, the appearance of telephone and the improvement of road communications made it fall into disuse. Then the Canaries saw the rise of tourism, and a new lifestyle dedicated to "modernity", scorning agriculture, livestock and everything related to the past. The practice of Silbo Gomero was reduced to farmers, ranchers and to some young people who refused to stop whistling.
It was only in the mid-eighties, on the proposal of parents' associations, that Silbo Gomero became an extracurricular activity in schools. Due to the enthusiasm for this activity, and because of its high ethnographic, social, cultural and linguistic value, on July 5, 1999, the Canary Islands Government, introduced the whistled language, as a compulsory subject in the educational system of La Gomera as well as literature and Spanish language. As a part of the primary and secondary school curriculum, it is stated that it helps students to learn, appreciate and respect the most important cultural, historical, geographical, natural, social and linguistic aspects of the community.
At a time of constant technological progress, including this communication practice in the island's school programs will have been the most appropriate measure to ensure its preservation. A decision that had a lot of weight for Silbo Gomero, since it was declared by UNESCO in 2009 "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity".
Currently, the Canary Islands Ministry of Education and Universities, through the Silbo Gomero Education Project, is bringing this heritage, in the classrooms from the first year of primary school to the fourth year of secondary school. Silbo practical courses last 25 to 30 minutes, once a week, in all the schools of the island. There are three teachers on the island (2 women and 1 man), who intervene and share classes. (Information: Francisco Javier Correa (Kico Correa) Whistler and Coordinator of the Silbo Gomero Teaching Project).