SIL Mexico

A Whistled Conversation
in Sochiapam Chinantec

San Pedro Sochiapam


Whistle speech in Sochiapam is practiced by all the men, and not the women, though women may understand it. It is often used over a distance, e.g. from one field to another, in preference to shouting, which is rarely used. It may also be used for fun in situations where regular speech could be heard. Different whistling styles are used to communicate at different distances. The verb sie² denotes whistling with the tongue against the alveolar ridge, useful for close-by communication (up to about 10 meters). Juo² denotes bilabial whistling, which can be heard up to about 200 meters. Juɨ³² denotes whistling with the fingers in the mouth, which, depending on the circumstances, can be heard over a kilometer away. Hóh³² denotes a loud falsetto, also audible over great distances, and used in certain circumstances often involving urgency or danger.

The whistled conversation is as of two men in different fields communicating. The text below represents what would have been said in normal speech. A cell-phone signal can be heard at one point but is not transcribed.

Marcelino Flores Mariscal (M) begins the conversation; Francisco Feliciano Cruz (F) responds to him.