The Fascinating Whistled Languages of the Canary Islands, Turkey & Mexico (and What They Say About the Human Brain) | Open Culture

For some years now linguist Daniel Everett has challenged the orthodoxy of Noam Chomsky and other linguists who believe in an innate “universal grammar” that governs human language acquisition. A 2007 New Yorker profile described his work with a reclusive Amazonian tribe called the Piraha, among whom Everett found a language “unrelated to any other extant tongue… so confounding to non-natives that” until he arrived in the 70s, “no outsider had succeeded in mastering it.” And yet, for all its extraordinary differences, at least one particular feature of Piraha is shared by humans across the globe—“its speakers can dispense with their vowels and consonants altogether and sing, hum, or whistle conversations.

”In places as far-flung as the Brazilian rainforest, mountainous Oaxaca, Mexico, the Canary Islands, and the Black Sea coast of Turkey, we find languages that sound more like the…

Source: The Fascinating Whistled Languages of the Canary Islands, Turkey & Mexico (and What They Say About the Human Brain) | Open Culture