Versión en español

A whistled conversation
in Sochiapam Chinantec
(ISO code cso)
San Pedro Sochiapam

Listen to the whistled conversation ( WAV (4.5 MB),  mp3 (813 KB)  RealMedia (214 KB))


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). Juɨ³² denotes bilabial whistling, which can be heard up to about 200 meters. Juo² 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.

M: Quiu²¹ réi¹³ Francisco!
F: Hei¹³ Hey!
M: Ha³ jinh¹ cuóh¹³ hnú² né³² né³ réi¹³. Where are you going today?
F: Má² ñí¹jáɨh²¹ hmá²cá²fe²¹ nia²¹ réi¹³. I'm going to clean the weeds around my coffee plants.
M: Hí¹ cuá¹jéih³² hmá² cá²fe²¹ nú² réi¹³. What, you're going to clean around your coffee plants?
F: Ján³ réi¹³. Yes.
M: Jan¹ réi¹³. All right.
M: Hí¹ haɨ²¹ mandarina ja¹ hmá² cá²fe²¹ quián¹³ nú² né³ réi¹³. What, are there tangerines planted among your coffee plants?
F: Já¹han²¹ réi¹³, ha³ tiá² hi³ haɨ²¹ yáh³ réi¹³. No, there aren't any.
M: Hí¹ haɨ²¹ ñí²ráu³ cáh¹ ja¹ hmá²cá²fe²¹ quián¹³ nú² réi¹³. Are there oranges planted among your coffee plants?
F: Ján³ réi¹, haɨ²¹ ñí²ráu³ cáh¹ réi¹³. Yes, there are some oranges.
M: Nɨ́² quiaun² ca³lá² ñí²ráu³ quiú¹³ nɨ́¹ má¹ñeih³² nú² réi¹³. Bring some oranges when you come back.
F: Jan¹ réi¹³, lá² caun²¹ ná³ nɨ́¹juáh³ hi³ lɨ³ na²¹ réi¹³. All right, I'll bring some if I can.
M: Jan¹ réi¹³, jáun² cuéh¹ nú² ca³lá² quiú¹³ na²¹ réi¹³. All right then, give me a few of them.
F: Jan¹ réi¹³, lá² cán¹³ ná³ nɨ́¹juáh³ hi³ lɨ³ na²¹ réi¹³. All right, I'll take some to you if I can pick them.
M: Ñeih²¹ hnú² ñí¹ lá² nɨ́¹ má¹cuanh³² nú² né³ réi¹³. Will you come over here when you get back?
F: Ján³ réi¹³, lá² já¹³ ná³ cu³lé³ nɨ́¹ má¹ ca³hláu³ réi¹³, nɨ́¹ má¹cuanh³² ná³ na²¹ réi¹³. Yes, I'll come over there in the evening, when I get back.
M: Jan¹ réi¹³; nɨ́² tiéh³ Sá²juáɨn³ nɨ́¹ má¹ñeih³² nú² na²¹ réi¹³. All right; call John when you're coming over here.
F: Jan¹ réi¹³. Ha³ jinh¹ cuóh¹³ nú² né³ réi¹³. All right.
M: Ha³ tiá² ñí¹ ñe¹ nia²¹ réi¹³, lá² cuá¹tón²¹ nia²¹ réi¹³. I'm not going anywhere, I'll be here.
F: Jan¹ réi¹³. Lá² já¹³ ná³ nɨ́¹ má¹cuanh³² na²¹ réi¹³. All right. I'll head over there when I get back.
M: Jan¹ réi¹³, lá² cuá¹jaun³² ná³ na²¹ réi¹³. All right, I'll be here waiting.
F: Jan¹ réi¹³, cu³lé³ má²jenh² na²¹ réi¹³. All right, we'll see each other this evening.
M: Cu³lé³ jenh¹³ réi¹³. We'll see each other this evening.