The remarkable Amazonian people that can convey their ENTIRE language by drumbeats US News

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The remarkable Amazonian people that can convey their ENTIRE language by drumbeats US News

The Amazonian Bora tribe can convey their entire language using the rhythm and pitch of drum beats. 

They use traditional manguaré drums to transmit information over a distance of at least 12 miles (20km), researchers found.

This unusual form of communication copies spoken language in many ways and different beats imitate specific words and sentences.

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The Amazonian Bora tribe can convey their entire language using just drumbeats that mimic speech. They use incredible traditional manguare drums (pictured) to transmit information over a distance of at least 12 miles (20km), researchers found

The Amazonian Bora tribe can convey their entire language using just drumbeats that mimic speech. They use incredible traditional manguare drums (pictured) to transmit information over a distance of at least 12 miles (20km), researchers found

The Bora are an indigenous group that occupy the Amazon of Peru and Colombia.

There are only 1,500 people left in the tribe and researchers from the University of Geroble Alpes in France studied 169 messages sent by five expert drummers. 

The Boras use manguaré drums traditionally carved from single logs, each about 6.5 feet (two metres) long.

Each drum can produce two pitches and is used in two ways.

One is the ‘musical mode’ which is used to perform memorised drum sequences with little or no variation.

These are generally for rituals and festivals.

The other is ‘talking mode’ when they want to transmit informal messages or public announcements.

The lengths of pauses between beats were related to spaces in Bora spoken words, writes New Scientist.

Certain beats identify nouns while others are verbs.

Each message has four sections – an introduction, the sender’s ID, the main message and a sign-off.

The message is usually a short instruction, such as ‘to go fishing’ and their sign-off can often be humorous – for example ‘now don’t say I’m a liar’.

The Boras do this with manguaré drums traditionally carved from single logs (each about two metres) through burning. Each drum can produce two pitches, a pair four in total

The Boras do this with manguaré drums traditionally carved from single logs (each about two metres) through burning. Each drum can produce two pitches, a pair four in total

The Bora are an indigenous group that occupy the Amazon of Peru and Colombia. The tribe are divided into different clans

The Bora are an indigenous group that occupy the Amazon of Peru and Colombia. The tribe are divided into different clans

WHO ARE THE BORA TRIBE?

The Bora are an indigenous group that occupy the Amazon of Peru and Colombia. 

The tribe are divided into different clans. Each one is typically represented by an animal – so for example one person might be in a jaguar clan and someone else in a turtle clan.

Each clan lives apart and has its own farms and hunting territories but they all speak the same language – Witotan.

They have no distinction between the physical and spiritual worlds and have an elaborate knowledge of plant life.

In around 1900 there were around 15,000 Bora.

However, the 20th century rubber boom had a devastating impact on them and their numbers were reduced to around 1,500.

In the last 40 years they have become largely settled in permanent dwellings in the forest. 

Their land continues to be threatened by illegal logging practices.

‘For example, the manguaré is used to ask someone to bring something or to come do something, to announce the outcome of non-alcoholic drinking competitions or the arrival of visitors’, said lead researcher Frank Seifart of the former Department of Linguistics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

‘In this model, only two pitches are used and each beat corresponds to a syllable of a corresponding phrase of spoken Bora.

‘The announcements contain on average 15 words and 60 drum beats.’

The human voice can generally only travel 650 feet (200 metres) but by using these drums, the Bora can communicate 100 times as far.

This drummed Bora mimics the tone and rhythm of their spoken language, researchers write in the paper published in Royal Society Open Science.

 

The remarkable Amazonian people that can convey their ENTIRE language by drumbeats US News

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The remarkable Amazonian people that can convey their ENTIRE language by drumbeats US News

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