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The Turkish village of Kusköy (Bird Village), in the Eastern Black Sea Mountains, the ancient art of whistling is still taught to schoolchildren. It is in these very mountains, south of Trabzon, that the Greek historian, Xenophon, came upon a similar use of whistling nearly 2500 years ago. Only five communities in the world are known to share the ability to whistle their speech. All of them, whether in Greece, Mexico, the Canaries or the Pyrenees – inhabit steep mountain valleys.
Vowels are replaced by a set of relative pitch ranges, stress is expressed by higher pitch or increased length and consonants are produced by pitch transitions of different lengths and height, plus the presence or absence of occlusion. (“Labial stops are replaced by diaphragm or glottal occlusions.”) An occlusion being the momentary closure of the passage of breath during the articulation of a consonant.