What if there was a language that only uses whistling for communication and conversation and no words? Well guess what! It does and it also exists in Greece.
Now pay notice: It is not simply about plain whistling sounds or signals, but an actual conversational whistle language!
Sometimes, by meeting people out of the blue and start talking with them, you may discover amazing secret hidden gems of culture. It was in such a frist time meeting with a new friend from South Evia and owner of South Evia Tours that revealed to us another Greek secret.
The village this secret is hidden in, is named Andia and is located at South Evia, near Cape Cavo D’ Oro. Apparrently there is a whistle language used, which has a label by itself. It is called “Sfyria”. The reason this was born? The locals say that they wanted to use a way to communicate at the country side from long distances. Others claim that it was used to alert people fast for incoming bandits. Sound travels fast, especially in the wilderness and tops of Greek mountains, so there you are! They build a whole whistle conversational language!
The existence of the whistling language of Andia was discovered after an airplance accident that happened at the area at 1979. The pilot was missing and search parties went to the area. There the locals offered their help and they used the “Sfyria” whistling to communicate on the mountains. Hey, it was 1979, no mobiles then.
Elders of Andia claim that the origin of this language has its root in the antiquities. A study showed that there is even an accoustical version of the actual vowels. The five vowels of the Greek language [a, ε, i, o, u] are reduced to three [(a, o), (ε, u), i] and are used like that.
The locals even claim that they can whistle the names of people. Watch the video below where this actually happens! More than that, even weddings were arranged like that. We also found out that they use different whistles to hoard the sheep, goat, dogs and who knows what else?
But is this way of whistle language thriving nowadays?
Unfortunaly it is not, so go and visit as long it exists. There are only a few whistlers remaining and elders try to pass that knowledge to the new generation. They think of it as part of their culture and something that must not be forgotten.
So, there you are! Put South Evia in your bucket list and explore that village. Then come here and share your experience! If you haven’t heard of the Whistle languages before, here is Wikipedia to help.
Cover Photo Credits: Panosz
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