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Published: 14 January 2013

By Andy Ross

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You know how to whistle, don't you?

Our world is so full of wonderful and amazing things isn't it? Last week, a piece on the whistled language of La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands, showed me the way to this YouTube video.

As a singer, whistling in place of words is very interesting. Words lose their coherence over distance; whistling is clearer and more immediate, and, as the documentary says, "can be heard by all".

I remember reading a while back that languages have evolved to take account of particular characteristics of the landscape and environment. In places where distances are vast and sound must carry, vowels become important because they carry sounds further than do consonants. People are also supposed to speak at a higher pitch than in colder climates. Does anyone out there in Internetland know anything about the relationship between language and environment? Wouldn't it be amazing if we can say that we are truly products of our environment, even down to the way we communicate?

"In La Gomera, the whistle and the landscape tell the same story."