Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Clear as a Whistle"

This is the freebie for the October 6, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by an anonymous prompt. It belongs to a new series, the Sounds of Civilization.

"Clear as a Whistle"

When aliens made first contact,
at first everyone was excited.

The Avari diplomats looked like
birds, with lovely rainbow feathers
and beaks of different shapes.

Then people realized that
they could not understand
the diplomats, and that
the aliens could not speak
human languages either.

It was frustrating as they
tried to work out agreements
through the use of computers
to translate between languages.

It was not until a diplomat
overheard two of the servers
calling to each other that anyone
discovered a language in common.

Silbo Gomero was based on
Spanish, transmuted from
spoken words to whistling.

It was nowhere near
as common as Spanish,
spoken only by silbadores
in the Canary Islands.

The Avari diplomats
took to it easily, though,
and soon it caught on
among more humans.

Finally, first contact was
as clear as a whistle.

* * *


First contact poses many barriers to communication. While science fiction often handwaves these barriers, sometimes it's fun to accentuate them instead.

Silbo Gomero is a whistled version of Spanish, although whistle-coding likely predates the Spanish invasion and thus the language has different roots from its current incarnation. Its speakers are called silbadores. Enjoy a video about it.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, linguistics, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, weblit, writing
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