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“Yo Silvo”, an association to study and to promote the Canary Whistle Language

“Yo Silvo”, an association to study and to promote the Canary Whistle Language

“Yo Silvo” is a Canarian collective that has been a reference in research and dissemination of the whistled language in the Canary Islands and in the world for more than a decade and the study, recovery and dissemination of this ancient form of communication is its main objective.

The eighth Cultural Meeting with the Whistled Language is already warming up. It will be held in Santa Lucía de Tirajana from June 3 to 5.

It is whistled in many places on the planet where, due to the existence of a mountainous system or as a consequence of isolation, humanity had to find a way to communicate where the voice did not reach it.

The Moroccan Atlas, Greece, Mexico, Turkey, the French Pyrenees, Alaska, the Canary Islands and “up to 70 remote populations that develop or have developed their local language in this speech register”, as Julien Meyer and David Díaz Reyes point out in ‘Geolinguistics of the whistled languages ​​of the world, with a focus on whistled Spanish’ (2017).

Meyer, linguist and bioacoustician, specialist in whistled languages ​​of the world, develops his activity from the University of Grenoble Alpes, France. Díaz Reyes, ethnomusicologist, professor and doctoral student in History at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), has developed his research work on whistled languages ​​from the Yo Silbo association, with various studies over the last twenty years. In 2008 he published the first edition of ‘The whistled language on the island of El Hierro’, the seed for the creation of ‘Yo Silbo’.

The work carried out by organizations such as these has allowed the recovery of the whistle as a method of communication in places where this practice had lost its daily life, was in disuse or had even disappeared completely.

Since the constitution, some 2,000 people have learned whistled language with the courses that the organization develops in all the islands between October and May.

Courses and workshops
Yo Silbo has a group of monitors who have taught courses and held shows and workshops on different islands. The association highlights the “enormous value” of the effort made in La Gomera to preserve the whistled language to this day and revalue it, and believes the whistled language should appear as a Canarian content within the school curriculum on all the islands, as it happens in the classrooms.

“Numerous written documents and oral testimonies have confirmed the presence of this form of communication in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, La Gomera and El Hierro”, which highlights that institutions such as the Cabildo Herreño and the Association for the Conservation of the Silbo Herreño work for the declaration of the variant of the whistle of this island as an Asset of Cultural Interest, with the purpose of preserving it and ensuring its survival.