Language mixes with music, apparently, as both sides of the brain are involved in ancient whistled Turkish, that debunks the theory that only the left hemisphere is involved in understanding types of communication. It takes more than that to properly perceive an uncommon language though.
A team of Turkish and German researchers have studied a rare and disappearing form of an ancient language spoke in the north-eastern parts of Turkey. It was previously believed that languages have most been interpreted by the left side of the brain, be it tonal, antonal, spoken or written, or even through signs.
Dr. Onur Güntürkün, at Ruhr University Bochum, in Germany has gathered up a number of 31 participants who were fluent in both regular Turkish and whistled Turkish from a small village, Kukov. There are only 10,000 people left who speak the latter, and is more often used as a means of communication across the valleys and mountains, with a range up to approximately 3.1 miles.
The participants were given a pair of headphones and then tested to see how they perceive syllables in both languages, while their brain activity was closely monitored. Normally, the left brain hemisphere processes information taken from the right year, and the right hemisphere from the left ear in return.
For spoken Turkish, this common occurrence was present, as while receiving different syllables in both ears, the right ear garnered the information more dominantly and sent it to the left hemisphere. The frequently met asymmetry between ear and brain hemisphere was not met in whistled Turkish.
It may be a rare form of communication and it’s rapidly growing even less common, but it has been successfully used to prove previous theories incorrect. The right brain hemisphere has been attributed to listening to music, and perhaps the phonetic quality and melodic tones of ancient whistled Turkish involve similar processes.
It’s not the first study of its kind, though. In 2005, the Universidad de la Laguna in Spain, has conducted a similar experiment and observed that shepherds from Canary Islands use both parts of the brain when communicating in a whistled form of Spanish. However, it’s quite clear that both languages are becoming less popular and will continue to be in decline.
With the use of cellphones and extensive coverage, there will be much less whistling across the mountains in Turkey, though that might’ve made quite an eerie atmosphere for the average traveler who had little idea of what they were walking into. The lack of privacy might also be a contributing factor.
Image source: arstechnica.net