Tag Archives: Silbo Gomero

The Language Archive opens in Berlin

Great news for all language fans out there: This month, the Max Planck Institute has opened The Language Archive in Berlin, one of the largest linguistic archives in the world! We wish all the best to The Archive on its inauguration and we are looking forward to seeing the development of this new space for language research.

Storing information about endangered languages online is an excellent way to keep a record of their pronunciation. The special units Busuu and Silbo Gomero on busuu.com are further examples of how you can get a taste of exotic and endangered languages that you are unlikely to experience when travelling abroad. With the audio files you can try out the language for yourself, and perfect your pronunciation! You may not be likely to use it in real life, but it is certainly great fun!


The Language ArchiveBy creating a space for research and the conservation of languages, The Language Archive also provides an account of the cultures, people and history that the language embraces. This valuable cultural heritage is now preserved for current and future generations of researchers who log in to the database.

Storing already 80 Terabytes (written out that’s 80,000,000,000,000 bytes!!!) worth of data from over 200 languages, The Language Archive plans to further extend its collection in the future.

Languages constantly change, cease and disappear. As stated in our blog entry on the European Day of Languages, 50% of the 6,000 to 7,000 existing ones are likely to become extinct by the end of this century. However, as we have seen in this blog entry, this does not mean that they will be forgotten!

Are you ready to get out there and discover some extraordinary languages for yourself? Try out our special learning units for Busuu and Silbo Gomero – a whole new way to test your foreign language skills!

Mission accomplished – Silbo Gomero is declared as cultural heritage by the UNESCO

GREAT NEWS – the UNESCO yesterday officially declared the nearly extinct whistled language Silbo Gomero from the Spanish Canary Islands as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity!

This means, that our campaign to rescue this nearly extinct whistled language has been successfully accomplished!

Remember, in September 2008, as part of our committment for having been selected as official project of the UNESCO during the international year of languages, we launched a campaign to rescue this wonderful but nearly extinct whistled language.

We produced a great video (which you can view below) and developed a special part on our website where you can access an interactive learning unit (you have to be logged in for that) for learning Silbo Gomero. We even created a fan page in facebook with currently more than 800 fans of Silbo Gomero.



This campaign has raised huge attention in the international press (see more information on our press page) and we even won a Silver Lion in the International Marketing Festival in Cannes for this activity.

Obviously, the decision of the UNESCO to include Silbo Gomero in the cultural heritage list is based on many criteria but we are convinced that we helped this charming language to raise its attention within the international public to a much more significant level.

We at busuu.com will continuously add new languages to our system (we have recently launched a free, interactive course in Italian) and are definitely commited to further support “smaller” languages around the world to prevent them from their extinction.

busuu.com wins a Silver Lion in Cannes!

La Despensa and busuu.com win Silver Lion in Cannes for Silbo Gomero videobusuu.com wins a Silver Lion in the International Advertising Festival in Cannes for our Silbo Gomero campaign.

In October 2008 we contracted the Madrid agency La Despensa in order to launch a campaign to improve the awareness of our website.

The outcome was the amazing campaign to “Rescue the Silbo Gomero” for which we won now the most important price in the advertising industry.

We loved the idea from the beginning: If you can learn languages on busuu.com – why not also learn a nearly extinct whistled language from the Canary Islands – el Silbo Gomero? It´s not only an entertaining campaign but it draws the attention to an important cause which we from busuu.com fully support: to prevent smaller languages from their extinction! So we decided to create a fascinating video explaining the history of this amazing language and launched a special section within our website where you can find lessons of “el Silbo” (if you log in, you can see the full content and start practicing).

The outcome was impressive – we received huge media coverage in Spain (contacting all important media by sending them a bird cage with a plastic singing bird inside… they loved it! ;-) and “el Silbo Gomero” was in the news again. The media even supported the application of this charming language to be recognized as UNESCO world heritage.

Please find the awarded video below:

We are very proud to receive this prestigious recognition! We not only  increased the awareness of our language learning community but also raised the public interest for a wonderful language which definitely needs to be preserved!

UNESCO International Mother Language Day

The tenth UNESCO International Mother Language Day will be celebrated on the 21st of February 2009. It provides us with an opportunity to recall the objective of this celebration which was the recognition of linguistic diversity and the importance of multilingual education.
“Only if multilingualism is fully accepted can all languages find their place in our globalized world”. Mr Koïchiro Matsuura. (Director General of UNESCO)

As busuu.com was one of the projects of the UNESCO 2008 International Year of Languages, we are taking a look back at our contribution to the celebration. Remember the busuu.com initiative to promote endangered languages such as Silbo Gomero? Well, it was a huge success. Over 15,000 of our users checked out our Silbo Gomero learning content and there are in total over 30,000 views of our Youtube videos in English, French, German and Spanish. So a big thank to all of you for your participation in the promotion and protection of this charming but endangered language.

The world’s nearly 7,000 languages will be celebrated on International Mother Language Day. Ensuring that these languages can continue in use alongside the major international languages of communication is a genuine challenge to countries and cultures worldwide.

So on that note, in my native language (which is Irish/Gaeilge), I will sign off today and remind you to celebrate your mother language on the 21st of February…Slán agus ná dermad do teanga dúchasach.

Silbo Gomero

As we here at busuu.com are committed to the preservation of minority languages, we have decided to include a new section on the almost extinct language of Silbo Gomero on our website! Silbo Gomero, however, is not any ordinary language. There are no words and there is no written form! Silbo Gomero is an almost extinct, whistled language from the island of la Gomera in the Spanish Canary Islands. It translates Spanish into whistled tunes but, as it is phonetic, it could be used for any other language. This amazing form of communication has existed for centuries and was used to communicate across the steep mountains and deep valleys of the island. While spoken words can only be heard up to a distance of 200 metres, the Silbo Gomero whistle can be heard up to a distance of 8 kilometres!

We have produced a short video which explains the history of this charming language. Click on the video below to have a look:

busuu.com is dedicated to the diversity of languages so we are helping Silbo Gomero in its fight against extinction. Why you don’t help Silbo too and try to learn some of this amazing form of communication by having a look at the Silbo Learning Unit here.

Once you have progressed with your Silbo skills, send us your own Silbo YouTube videos to team@busuu.com and we will put the best ones up on our website!

So start whistling and help busuu.com keep Silbo Gomero alive!