Whistling speech, I heard about this at SIL last summer, but I forgot about it till I heard a story about it on NPR tonight. In Mazatec, and I could be wrong, but I think in Mazatec the combination and length of tones is often enough to understand what phrase is being said. Which is where the whistles come in. Our phonetics prof last summer, an older lady who had spent a lot of time in the field, got great pleasure from “humming” us sentences and then telling us what they meant.
Also, while I’m on the “what I heard on NPR today” track, I listened to the podcast of this week’s This American Life episode today, and I came to the conclusion that Ira Glass doespronounce his /l/s as uvular nasals (commonly refered to as “swallowing your l’s”). It was a really good episode. It was called “By Proxy” and it was about people who have had to do things in the place of others. Davy Rothbart, the creator of Found Magazine, tells a story about a childhood friend who often asks him to make decisions for her, which of course leads down strange (and because it’s This American Life) ultimately bittersweet roads. I liked that story the best, but there was also a story about an Iraqi translator and some elementary school kids in New York. These podcasts really brighten up my wanderings around campus, but I always get self-conscious everytime I laugh out loud.