Turkish Village Residents Speak Whistled Bird Language: Fact Check

Image Showing Turkish Village Residents Speak Whistled Bird Language
Turkish Village Residents Speak Whistled Bird Language


Residents of a Turkish Village Speak Whistled Bird Language, Communicating with Whistles

Fact Check:

An intriguing story doing rounds online claims that residents of a Turkish village speak Whistled Bird Language, i.e. they Communicate with Whistles. As explained below, the fascinating story is a fact with some missing information.

Image Showing Turkish Village Residents Speak Whistled Bird Language

About the Whistled Bird Language

In remote area of Northern Turkey, small groups of Black Sea villagers use a sophisticated system of whistling known as “bird language”. People who know the Whistled Bird Language use high-pitched whistles to communicate across long and mountainous distances. In a fascinating fashion, they use whistling to simulate and articulate words. The whistling sounds are modulated using fingers, tongue, teeth, lips and cheeks. In the video below, you can see a glimpse of such practice in the Turkish region. There’s also a village there called Kusköy, which translates as “bird village”.

The Whistled Bird Language is not new, it echoed in the Eastern Black Sea region for about five centuries. The reason is the rugged topography of the region, where local people found the alternative way of communication across long distances. Mainly agricultural communities practiced the whistle language because they spend most of their lives outdoors.

Image Showing Turkish Village Residents Speak Whistled Bird Language

Whistled Bird Language Declining

Yes, changes in social, economic and technology (mainly mobiles) have led to decline of the cultural practice. The bird language reduced to a few words spoken by shepherds. Despite that, some of the Black Sea coast residents are trying to keep the bird language culture alive. There are also communities trying to promote this linguistic practice and ensure it sustains. As a matter of fact, there are dozens of other whistled languages around the world (in mountain and forest areas) that are declining. Both through formal and informal methods, children in the Turkish villages are taught the whistled bird language. Kusköy village has also held the Bird Language Festival to promote its use.

Image Showing Turkish Village Residents Speak Whistled Bird Language

In late 2017, UNESCO has added the whistled bird language to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list saying there’s urgent need of safeguarding it. Rightly, the officials described it as strong indicator of human creativity.

Hoax or Fact:

Fact with some missing information.


Turkey’s whistled ‘bird language’ under threat from mobiles
UN moves to protect whistled ‘bird language’ in Turkey’s Black Sea region

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Prashanth Damarla