Spring Edition 2018

We welcome you to the Spring 2018 edition of our newsletter. We are pleased to share with you our achievements and our development as a translation vendor.

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This unusual and unique way of communicating through whistling has been used for thousands of years on the island of La Gomera, on the Canary Islands. It was created by the Guanches, the island’s first inhabitants, to enable them to easily communicate without having to manoeuvre among the cliffs and precipices. At first, the whistled language was used as a code for the spoken Canarian Berber language and was used on the islands of El Hierro, Tenerife and Gran Canaria. It was gradually adapted to Spanish after the conquest of the archipelago, in the 16th Century. This unusual language was passed down from parents to their children as a tool for working in the fields. With favourable wind conditions, it has been demonstrated that a whistle can travel around three or four kilometres, while spoken messages can only be heard at a distance of 200 metres.

Far from disappearing, the Gomeran whistle is being used with increasing frequency. Since 1999, it is part of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity and it is a compulsory subject in schools. To learn more about the whistled language, we propose a theoretical lesson on whistling. To produce the whistle sound, you should position your lips inwards, place your tongue behind your lower lip and bend your index finger on your tongue. Then, try to reproduce the sounds of the Spanish language based on two vowels and four consonants. Each of the four consonants is associated to several Spanish sounds:

/CHE/= t, ch, s
/YE/= d, n, ñ, l, ll, y, r, rr
/KE/= p, k, f
/GE/= b, m, g, j

For this reason, one single whistled sequence can represent two or more words in spoken Spanish. Once you are familiar with the whistle, when you hear “Keke gayaya goi a ya kiaya”, you should understand: “Pepe mañana voy a la playa” (Pepe, tomorrow I’m going to the beach). When you hear the whistle for the first time, it may remind you of bird song due to its strange melodic curve, formed by rhythm, breaks and tones that range from high-pitched to deep. Despite its technical complexity, it is estimated that at present over 20,000 people speak the whistled language.