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Gomeran whistle: The Spanish language without words

By 24 September, 2014June 6th, 2018Spanish Culture, Spanish language

Spanish is the official language in Spain, with Basque (Basque Country), Catalan (Catalonia) and Galician (Galicia) as co-official languages. However, there is another language in Spain: The Silbo Gomero (Gomeran whistle), which is a language from the Island of La Gomera, in The Canary Islands: No doubt it is a very special language, since it does not have any words, but sounds. Gomeran whistle is not spoken, but whistled. And surely there will be courses of this peculiar language.

La Gomera is a small island, very mountainous, historically devoted to agriculture and cattle raising, that is to say, work in the land. Due to the mountains, communication was very difficult among shepherds, and that is the reason why a new way of communication was born: whistling. Nowadays, Gomeran whistle has the honor of being Intangible Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO, since 2009, and it is a compulsory subject for children in the Gomeran schools.

Gomeran whistled is composed by four consonant sounds and two vowel sounds. In total, there are six sounds that, when combined, create a possible way of communication through the cliffs and gullies that fill the geography of the island.

Gomeran whistle is a kind of language that simplifies the Spanish phonology in order to adapt it to the normal limitations of whistling. Of course, this reduction implies a significant degree of ambiguity in communication. The inhabitants of the island, however, have been able to make out pragmatic solutions to this problem, exchanging as many questions and answers as necessary to understand a message clearly.

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