University to offer whistled language classes

University to offer whistled language classes

University to offer whistled language classes

A university in the Black Sea province of Giresun is set to offer classes on a whistled language unique to the region as an elective course next term.

Giresun University will add the whistled language - inscribed in UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2017 - to the curriculum of the tourism faculty as an elective course.

“The whistled language has been used by local people for centuries to communicate with each other” in the district of Çanakçı, Musa Genç, dean of the tourism faculty, told state-run Anadolu Agency.

According to Genç, the whistled language - also known as the bird language - underwent a scientific study first in 1956, revealing that it has protected all its features until today.       

He expressed concern for the language to be part of extinct languages, urging for the protection of the cultural heritage in the wake of technological developments and migration.

Last year, a group of Turkish academics launched a project to create alphabets for the language.

Around 10,000 people, mostly in Çanakçı, currently use and understand the language, according to UNESCO.

The human voice can travel up to 500 meters in normal conditions, Genç said.

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.

The education of the language first started in primary schools four years ago.

The bird language has been tutored to some 100 students so far, a local official said earlier this year.

In the first semester of the 2018-2019 education year, some 13 students learned the language.

Since 1997, the Bird Language Festival has been held in Kuşköy, a village in Çanakçı, to promote the cultural asset.

UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list has 17 Turkish traditions.

Intangible cultural heritage is a type of cultural heritage which includes oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festivals, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts, according to UNESCO’s official website.

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