Brains that do Something Surprising, speak in Whistle Language 


Known as sfyria, Whistling Language is one of the rarest and most endangered languages in the world-a mysterious form of long-distance communication in which entire conversations, no matter how complex, can be whistled.

For the last two millennia, the only people who have been able to sound and understand sfyria's secret notes are the shepherds and farmers from this hillside hamlet, each of whom has proudly passed down the tightly guarded tradition to their children.

History of Whistle Language

Whistled languages use whistling to emulate speech and facilitate communication. A whistled language is a system of whistled communication which allows fluent whistlers to transmit and comprehend a potentially unlimited number of messages over long distances. Whistled languages are different in this respect from the restricted codes sometimes used by herders or animal trainers to transmit simple messages or instructions. Generally, whistled languages emulate the tones or vowel formants of a natural spoken language, as well as aspects of its intonation and prosody, so that trained listeners who speak that language can understand the encoded message.

Challenges with Whistled Languages

By nature, a whistled language is already much more threatened than a spoken language because it's much harder to reproduce. While many of the elderly whistlers have died or lost their teeth, the younger ones have moved to different places for better earning opportunities.

You could say they sent the first tweets. An ancient whistling language that sounds a little like birdsong has been found to use both sides of the brain-challenging the idea that the left side is all important for communicating. The whistling language is still used by around 10,000 people in the mountains of north-east Turkey and can carry messages as far as 5 kilometers.

Importance & Psychological benefits of Whistled Languages

Researchers have now shown that this language involves the brain's right hemisphere, which was already known to be important for understanding music. Until recently, it was thought that the task of interpreting language fell largely to the brain's left hemisphere. Onur Gunturkun of Ruhr University Bochum in Germany wondered whether the musical melodies and frequencies of whistled Turkish might require people to use both sides of their brain to communicate.

His team tested 31 fluent whistlers by playing slightly different spoken or whistled syllables into their left and right ears at the same time and asking them to say what they heard. The left hemisphere depends slightly more on sounds received by the right ear, and vice versa for the right hemisphere. By comparing the number of times the whistlers reported the syllables that had been played into either their right or left ear, they could tell how often each side of the brain was dominant. As expected, when the syllables were spoken, the right ear and left hemisphere were dominant 75 per cent of the time. But when syllables were whistled, the split between right and left dominance was about even.

"In all languages, tonal or atonal, click or sign language, written or spoken, it's so far been the left hemisphere that appears to do most of the interpretation," says Gunturkun.
"Now, we've shown for the first time equal contributions from both hemispheres."

In the age of smartphones it's impossible that people would rely on such communicational techniques. People ofcourse need more privacy to gossip, they don't want to announce it in front of whole valley. BUT imagine this kind of power that whistle language has, it needs no infastructure, no investment, no networking issues and if we train our students according to this undiscovered amazing it would be!! In terms of specialized talent, hidden treasure of skill, cultural enrichment etc.

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