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Turkish Bird Language

(A poem in response to the New York Times article by Malin Fezehai dated 5/30/19)


Did you know there are whistling languages?

I read about it in the Times.

What? You ask. Well, let me tell you,

It’s much stranger than speaking in rhymes.

In the mountains of north Turkey where farmers grow nuts and tea,

They have to talk to people further away than the eye can see.

If they yell, their friends can’t hear them. It’s just way too far.

So they made a language of whistles, which to you might sound bizarre.

If you listen to the video, you won’t believe your ear.

People whistling in full sentences will be the only thing you’ll hear.

In fact it’s called “bird language,” and now you can understand why.

The language sounds like bird songs – who knew people could whistle so high!?

Bird song is complicated as the research shows,

These whistlers can say anything and can send it wherever the wind blows.

This language was once popular for farmers herding animals

But then the cell phone was invented and whistling gave way to mechanicals.

Now farmers can communicate with simple calls and text

And they no longer have to learn to whistle, which was so much more complex.

So only 10,000 people whistle bird as we speak,

But once you have heard it, I promise you’ll want to learn their technique.

You’ll wonder as I do now, about real birds communicating

You’ll realize there might be more than tweets in all of their dictating.

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 © 2019 by Tiana Gierke O'Konek.  All rights reserved.

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