Whistling Down the Wind

Two isolated villages share an Ancient way of communicating across mountainous ravines. Andriëtte Stathi-Schoorel captures the last echoes in Greece and Turkey

It was at the Megaron Mousikis festival in Athens in 1995 that I first witnessed the remarkable phenomenon of whistled speech. Four villagers from Antia, on the island of Euboia, stood at one end of the big hall and whistled messages to another group in the opposite gallery, while a fellow villager translated for the audience.
“Are you going fishing today?” one villager whistled across the hall.
“How many goats are you going to transport to Karystos?”
“I’m coming right now, just wait a second…”

… There are four other places where whistled speech is part of a way of life: in the Canary Island of Gomera, in the Pyrenees, in Mexico, and in Kuşköy on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, all of whose isolated, mountainous locations are strikingly similar.

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Issue 18, 1999 The Ottoman Riviera
£8.00 / $11.25 / 44.40 TL
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