The Latino Whistle

Context: The folklore gathered is a particular whistle sound, that was a way of getting someone’s attention.

Link to Sample Audio:

Explanation of Folklore: I interviewed J about a particular whistle sound he made, that was a sort of attention getting gesture. This is a gesture that was practiced a lot by J when I was growing up , and something he implemented in my upbringing. As a kid, J had a unique way of getting my attention. He would do this particular whistle sound that, whenever I heard, I immediately knew it was him trying to get my attention. This whistle, although simple, was so recognizable to me, and immediately caught my attention, almost like some sort of sonar or audio flare. My ears would perk up, and I didn’t even have to be looking at him to know who it was.

This was specifically useful whenever we were in crowded places, like getting picked up from school, in a supermarket, and in malls. What makes this particular whistle so nostalgic, is that I usually associate it with a “time to go” message or tone. Usually, whenever J let out this whistle, it was an indicator that he wanted to get my attention, and or it was time to go. Depending on the context (where we were or what we were doing) I usually would use my context clues. This whistle is ingrained in my memory, and as stated previously, is ingrained so vividly in my memory. When interviewing J, he knew exactly what I was talking about, and was excited that I remembered it as well.

Analysis: According to J, this was a custom he also experienced in his upbringing growing up in El Salvador. As a kid his father used a certain whistle sound to gather his attention. For him, it was almost second nature, and for as long as he could remember, the whistle was always a non verbal way of communicating a certain “let me get your attention” gesture. I asked J about the particular whistle he chose to use, and he stated that it was what came natural to him, what he found to be the first whistle he made. This stuck, and became his particular gesture, something unique to him, and his children.

tying to the diachronic nature folklore holds.

Personal Analysis: What fascinates me about this particular folk gesture is how it is not unique to El Salvador at all. It seems to be a Latino concept, and perhaps, even a world wide one.

I asked several Latino people if people in their lives also used a whistle to grab their attention, and the common consensus was an astounding yes. Many people in the Latino community have stated that there is a particular “Latino Whistle” that is ingrained in our community, and passed on by the older generations. It is also a folk gesture that is typically associated with a father figure, a dad call if you will.

I also discovered that within the Chicano community, the use of a whistle is a very common call of attention that signifies a “what’s up” gesture. Similar to the “Latino Whistle” I heard growing up, its main purpose is to grab your attention. Also, the whistle sound is not standardized. Many people I asked whistled the sounds they grew up hearing and they all differed. This is very important because although the basic principle remains the same, it is the execution that varies. This is commonly seen in Oicotypes, and the various regional differences of folklore that exist within a region.

This concept of passing on folk gestures can be seen in more traditional folk, stories like those the Grimm’s documented, folklore that are staples in certain communities. a Functional Analysis would lead me to believe that this “Latino Whistle” is done to trap the attention of somebody. There is an association between hearing this whistle, and immediately knowing you have to perk up and listen to whoever let it out. In terms of Transmission, it seems to be a form of folklore that is passed on from generation to generation, and similar to how folklore is passed on by groups of people, this “Latino Whistle seems to be a staple within the community.