Skip to content

Perception of whistled Turkish by Turkish speakers

Mary Ann Walter

Pages 272 - 285

Turkish belongs to a special and relatively small group of languages worldwide which are known to be used in whistled form. Such whistled speech is acoustically simplified and not comprehensible to untrained speakers of the same language. This study investigates the ability of untrained, non-whistling Turkish speakers to distinguish between whistled Turkish and the whistled versions of other languages. Results indicate that they can do this at above chance levels, depending on individual linguistic factors such as native language and degree/type of familiarity with specific other languages. Whistled Turkish represents a novel source of information on a special modality of Turkish and a cultural practice of some Turkish-speaking communities. In addition, we see that just as newborns are able to discriminate between languages without intelligibility, based on the restricted phonetic information available to them while still in the womb, listeners are also able to discriminate between their native language and others based on the relatively restricted acoustic information and novel modality of whistled speech.

Keywords: Turkish, whistled language, perception of language


Export Citation