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The Canarian population speaks Castillian Spanish ((Castellano), the official language of Spain. The Spanish spoken on La Gomera and all the other Canary Islands sounds more melodious than that of the Spanish mainland; the pronunciation is somewhat reminiscent of that in South America. It is also noticeable that the 's' at the end of a word is often swallowed.
There are still some Guanche words in use, such as 'guagua' for bus and 'papa' for potato.
Castellano (Castilian) has been the official state language since around 1250. Abroad, Castellano is actually always referred to as "Spanish". Castellano is a Romance language with many derivations from Latin, but also from many other languages. Spanish contains about 100 words that were brought to the peninsula by the Visigoths, among others.
During the domination of the Moors, approximately 4,000 words were introduced into the Spanish language. Furthermore, many words have been borrowed from French and Italian, and more recently from English.
Examples of derivations are:
The Castellano language differs in some respects from other Romance languages, particularly in pronunciation. The letters of the Spanish alphabet are: a, b, c, ch, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, ll, m, n, ñ, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, x, y, z.
Very remarkable and unique in the world is the whistle language or 'El Silbo'. Modulations produce letters and syllables in which the rhythm and key are constantly changing. The technique is as follows: one takes the bent index finger in the corner of the mouth and pushes the tongue backwards. The other hand then serves as a loudspeaker. By changing the position of the fingers, different whistles can be produced.
This whistling system enables practiced 'silbadores' to transmit messages from one mountain to another, over a distance of about four kilometres. This unique 'language' was written about as early as the 15th century.
The older Gomeros in particular still have a full or partial command of this means of communication. Because El Silbo threatened to slowly die out, it was put on the World Heritage List by Unesco, and schools now even offer El Silbo as an optional subject.
Evers, K. / Canarische eilanden : Tenerife, La Gomera, El Hierro, La Palma, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote
Leibl, M. / Gomera & Hierro
Lipps, S. / La Gomera
Lipps, S. / Wandelgids La Gomera en El Hierro
Murphy, P. / Canarische eilanden
Renouf, N. / Canarische eilanden
Rokebrand, R. / Reishandboek Tenerife
Schulze, D. / La Gomera
Simonis, D. / Tenerife & La Gomera
Williams, C. / Tenerife, including La Gomera
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country Profiles
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