Thursday, January 06, 2005

Herders' Whistled Language Shows Brain's Flexibility

National Geographic News Article

A new report in the scientific journal, Nature, indicates that Canary Island natives using the wistled language, Silbo Gomero, process the whistles with a part of the brain usually associated with language. Silbo Gomero is one of some 70 whistled languages still in use, though only 12 have been described and studied scientifically. The shepherds who use the language to communicate over long distances, usually use it to communicate commands, although it has the flexibilty to communicate anything that could be spoken in Spanish.

"Since 1999 Silbo Gomero has been taught in all of Gomera's elementary schools." In addition, "the local authorities are trying to get an award from UNESCO to declare [Silbo Gomero] as something that should be preserved for humanity," according to Manuel Carreiras, psychology professor at the University of La Laguna on the Canary island of Tenerife.

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