In the Canary Islands people speak Canarian, depending on the island we have different accents and words that mean one thing or another. But if there is something that makes us different from the rest of the world, it is that we have the only whistled language in the world. We present you the whistle gomero.
The whistle has been spoken since the time of the Guanches. At the beginning it was spoken in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, El Hierro and La Gomera, but finally it stayed in this last island. In the beginning, Bereber, the language of the natives, was spoken. When the crown of Castile conquered the Canary Islands in the 16th century, the Canaries adapted the language to Castilian.
Why a whistled language?
Gran Canaria, Tenerife, El Hierro and, above all, La Gomera, are islands that have many ravines and cliffs and, in the past, it was difficult to move around these places. Taking advantage of the acoustics of the ravines and the echo they provide, it was possible to communicate between the different points of the island. If the wind is favorable it can travel up to four kilometers.
What does it consist of?
In Spanish we have 22 consonants and 5 vowels. The Gomeran whistle is reduced to four consonants and two vowels. And which means that it can be translated into any language.
Now 22,000 people can speak the “Silbo gomero”. In 2009, UNESCO declared it as Intangible Heritage of Humanity. They emphasized that it was a communication system adapted to the island and its environment. It is currently taught in the schools of La Gomera so as not to lose it.
Nowadays the whistle of La Gomera can still be heard in the streets and on the slopes of La Gomera. There are also different places where it is taught, like for example in the Restaurant del Mirador de Abrante. Don’t miss the opportunity and listen to the whistle.