Turkey’s whistled language to get alphabet
GİRESUN – Anadolu Agency
Around 10,000 people, mostly in the district of Çanakçı in the Giresun province, currently use and understand the language, according to UNESCO.
It was developed to allow people to communicate across steep mountain valleys but has been dying out, as mobile phones reduce the need for new generations to learn the language.
Prof. Musa Genç, the dean of the Tourism Faculty at Giresun University, told Anadolu Agency the project aims to “pass on this cultural heritage to future generations.”
”To do that, we have formed a working group to create the alphabet of the whistled language,” Genç said.
He said a group of academics, including musicians as well as linguists from Giresun University, will visit Kuşköy village and begin creating the alphabet for the language.
According to Genç, records of the language will first be turned into notes and later into letters.
“When the project is finalized, the whistled language, which is used for communication by locals in the region, will become a more common and internationally used language,” he said.
He said the language had been used in Giresun for around 500 years and it was also used in other parts of the world as a communication tool.
The human voice can travel up to 500 meters in normal conditions, Genç said, adding that the whistled language allows the voice to reach up to 30 kilometers in good weather conditions.
The practice is one of the dozens of whistled languages used around the world where steep terrain or dense forests make communication difficult over distances, such as North Africa’s Atlas Mountains, the highlands of northern Laos or the Amazon basin in Brazil.
Since 1997, the Bird Language Festival has been held in Kuşköy to promote its use. The district has also provided training programs to primary school pupils for the last three years.
However, despite these efforts, UNESCO found that “the whistled language may soon totally disappear unless essential safeguarding measures are undertaken using an integrated approach.”