Some cultures use a whistled language to communicate. This means that speech is emulated in whistling, which can cover much larger distances.
Whistled languages are normally found in locations with difficult mountainous terrain, slow or difficult communication, low population density and/or scattered settlements, and other isolating features such as shepherding and cultivation of hillsides (Busnel and Classe 1976: 27 – 28). The main advantage of whistling speech is that it allows the speaker to cover much larger distances (typically 1 – 2 km but up to 5 km) than ordinary speech, without the strain (and lesser range) of shouting.
As two people approach each other, one may even switch from whistled to spoken speech in mid-sentence.
This page has a nice example of a whistled conversation in Sochiapam Chinantec, a tonal language spoken in part of southern Mexico. The whistled version of the language is only spoken by men. (The conversation is interrupted by a modern telephone ring, which amused me greatly.)
Another example of whistled language, ‘Silbo Gomero’: CNN.com — “Nearly extinct whistling language revived”
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