LINGUIST List 7.1166

Sun Aug 18 1996

Sum: Whistled speech

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <dizdartam2000.tamu.edu>


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  • George Huttar 709 2400, whistled speech

    Message 1: whistled speech

    Date: Sat, 17 Aug 1996 22:44:18 -0000
    From: George Huttar 709 2400 <George_HuttarSIL.ORG>
    Subject: whistled speech


    Nearly 11 months ago (27 September 1995) LINGUIST 6-1319 included a summary on whistled speech. Since George Cowan is one of the names most associated with this topic, I sent him the posting for his interest. He replied almost immediately with some information supplementing and in some details correcting the LINGUIST posting. It is only my own negligence that is responsible for the delay. Here is the additional information from George Cowan (with my apologies also for the occasional character that has been mangled by my email software):

    Comments on "Whistled Speech" in LINGUIST List: Vol-6-1319, Wed Sept 27 1995 ISSN: 1068-4875.

    The following articles by George M. Cowan did not occur in the listing:

    "Mazateco whistle speech." Language: Journal of the Linguistic Society of America (Baltimore, MD: Waverly Press) 24:28O-86(1948). Repub. Hymes, ed., Language in culture and society New York: Harper & Row (l964), pp.3O5-11. Repub. Holmes, ed., Readings in general anthropology New York: Ronald Press (1971), pp.268-76. Repub. Ruth M. Brend, ed., Studies in tone and intonation by members of the Summer Institute of Linguistics Bibliotheca Phonetica 11, Basel: S. Karger (1975), pp.1O8-17. Republ. Thomas A.Sebeok and Jean Umiker, eds., Speech surrogates: a reader; vol.l, Drum and whistle systems The Hague: Mouton (1976), xxiv + 1456 Two volumes (Vol.23 of Approaches to Semiotics) Permission to republish given in 1972 to A. Kimball Romney in You and Others: An Anthropological Perspective Cambridge, MA: Winthrop Publishers, Inc. but no copy ever received. An adaptation published in Sign Language Unit: Hawaii English Program Honolulu: Hawaii Curriculum Center (197O) pp.28- 31, which later included in Project Aloha materials for California and Project Pacific materials for American Samoa, Guam, Saipan and Palau schools in 1973. Reviewed and quoted at length in R.G. Busnel & A. Classe, Whistled Languages: Communications and Cybernetics 13, New York: Springer-Verlag (1976), 117 pp. Noted and commented on by Mary Ritchie Key in "Brief Review" of Sebeok and Jean Umiker, eds., Speech surrogates: a reader; vol.l, Drum and whistle systems in ???

    "El idioma silbido entre los mazatecos de Oaxaca y los tepehuas de Hidalgo, Mexico." Tlatoani 1:3 y 4 (l952), pp.31-33. Republ. Thomas A.Sebeok and Jean Umiker, eds., Speech surrogates: a reader; vol.l, Drum and whistle systems The Hague: Mouton (1976), xxiv + 1456 Two volumes (Vol.23 of Approaches to Semiotics).

    "Segmental features of Tepehua whistle speech." [A. Rigault and R. Charbonneau, eds., Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Montreal, 1971: Janua Linguarum series maior 57] The Hague: Mouton (1972), pp.695-98. Note: This did appear in the listing but incorrectly ascribed to Cowan, C instead of Cowan, George M.

    "Whistled Tepehua" [Thomas A.Sebeok and Jean Umiker, eds., Speech surrogates: a reader; vol.l, Drum and whistle systems] The Hague: Mouton (1976), 14OO-9 (Vol.23 of Approaches to Semiotics).

    "Whistled communication." Notes on Linguistics 2O:22-24 (1981).

    Also missing from the bibliographical references:

    Busnel, Ren-Guy "Bioacstica de la lengua silbada mazateca" Ciencia y desarrollo julio-agosto, 1981 (Nm.39, ao VII) pp. 178-184

    WHY WHISTLE?

    "It may be used for secrecy but not for games" - but see Cowan 1948 section 4 on use while playing games, and in order not to interfere with speech going on at the same time.

    WHICH LANGUAGES ARE WHISTLED?

    Also to the list given can be added: Mura-Piraha of Brazil Desano of Colombia Taos of USA Sayula Popoluca of Mexico Attie, Nyabwa, Wobe, Kabye, Yakouba and Mwana of Cote d'Ivoire Nchumburu of Ghana Yoruba of Nigeria Gbaya, Doohwaayo and Mofu of Cameroun Abau, Polopa, Telefol, and Bauzi of Papua New Guinea (possibly Tairora and Narak, in the latter reportedly linked with the spirits talking)

    I have heard bilingual Tepehua speakers in Mexico whistle in Spanish and heard of French being whistled in Africa.

    VARIA

    I question the accuracy of the statement: "In tone languages, such as Mazatec and Tepehua ..., some sacrifice of articulation is necessay to preserve the tone patterns" - I do not believe Tepehua is considered a tone language. Nor is the statement true of Mazatec, so far as my observation goes, since Mazatec whistling does not try to preserve the consonantal articulations.

    ***End of message from George Cowan***

    George Huttar (huttarsil.org)