The Spanish island where they say it with a whistle
On the Spanish island of La Gomera, in the Canary Islands, people can communicate by whistle. Dating back centuries, the ancient language of Silbo Gomero is still widely used on the island. The ENTR team met the whistlers keeping it alive.
The volcanic topography of La Gomera prompted its inhabitants to find a way of communicating across long distances. Before the advent of mobile phones, they found that a whistle, echoing through the island’s mountains, could reach up to 4 kilometres away.
Once used to notify fellow islanders of important events, then to escape the Guardia Civil during Franco’s dictatorship, Silbo is now one of the last 80 whistled languages in the world, helping scientists make ground-breaking discoveries about the human brain.
The ENTR team met Francisco Niebla, a young whistler whose passion for Silbo was passed down to by his grandfather, and Quico Correa, among the island’s most experienced silbadores.
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