How can a simple whistle allow middle school students to understand words such as “orange”… or rather its Occitan version, “irange”?

This feat is due to the work of a teacher, Philippe Biu, who “teaches the whistled version of Occitan”.

Unprecedented in France, this course is given every fortnight at the “Les cinq monts” college in Laruns, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

It must be said that whistled language was once used by shepherds in the village of Aas, a few kilometers from Laruns.

In order for the practice to continue, these students decided to take this Occitan course.

“At the very beginning of the course, we take roll call.

But of course, this call will be in whistled language, ”says the teacher.

"The whistled language died out in 1999"

"Some people will say it's a dead language," says Gwendoline, who follows this teaching.

Personally, I find it cool that the people who have learned this language pass it on to the next generations”.

A really important transmission for the survival of this language: "The whistled language died out in 1999 with the death of the last whistler who knew this language natively", confirms Philippe Biu.


This region of France is not the only one to have such a language: “We whistle in other regions of the world.

There are several languages ​​that have a whistled version, several dozen languages.

Here, the language was used above all for utilitarian needs because in our Pyrenees, two good whistlers could have communicated on either side of the valley”.


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