Sfyria is the world’s rarest and most extinct language. For the last two thousand years, the only known speakers of the tongue are the locals of Antia in Greece.
THE RESIDENTS OF THE MOUNTAINOUS VILLAGE SPEAKS AND UNDERSTANDS SFYRIA
Antia is a tiny village in Mount Ochi. It is very tiny that even Google Maps do not know it exists. This village in a rocky mountain on the Greek island of Evia is a home to the sfyria speakers.
The sfyria language is just like the sound of birds. It is a whistled language that does not do depend on phonetics and voiced sounds. In the last two thousand years, the farmer and shepherd inhabitants of the humble hillside communicate to each other through mellifluous whistling. It is astonishing to note that one generation learned the astonishing language and passed on to another. Through this, the tradition of the great language continues to exist.
However, in the last ten years, the population of Antia has decreased immensely. From 250 inhabitants, the numbers fall to 37. In these figures, only six people can speak the beautiful sfyria language. Although there are still members of the tribe who can understand the majestic unspoken language, most of them are already very old. They can no longer produce the precise whistling sounds of sfyria.
WHERE DID SFYRIA COME FROM?
There is no clear and certain knowledge on how the astonishing unspoken language of sfyria began. However, etymologically speaking, sfyria comes from the Greek word sfyrizo which means “whistle.” There are some theories that the whistling language originated from a troop of Persian soldiers who came to the mountain two millennia ago. Some residents also say that the language is of Byzantine origin. Interestingly, it was, based on the stories, a clandestine way of villagers sending warning signals to each other when there are invading pirates or enemies from another village.
Some residents also say that the language is of Byzantine origin. Interestingly, it was, based on the stories, a clandestine way of villagers sending warning signals to each other when there are invading pirates or enemies from another village.
However, it was not until the year 1969 when sfyria was discovered and made known to the world. Long ago, an airplane crashed in one of the mountains of Antia. The search and rescue team were looking for the missing pilots when they heard strange whistlings coming back and forth from the sides of the hills. They found out these whistles emanated from shepherds “talking” to each other.
SFYRIA IS THE WHISTLED VERSION OF SPOKEN GREEK
Sfyria caught the interest of many expert linguists. According to studies, the whistled language is equivalent to spoken Greek. Letters and syllables of the Greek language have their similar tone, rhythm, and frequency in sfyria. The messages communicated through sfyria travels farther than the spoken Greek. In fact, it can go up four kilometers across the mountain without shouting.
This rare whistling language is not the only one of its kind that exists in the world. There are still 70 other whistled languages out there, but sfyria is the one that is critically extinct. Unesco Atlas of the World’s in Danger notes that there is no other European language that have the least speakers left.
Most elders have died, and some families have already migrated to Athens. Syfria may be a disappearing language, but it is definitely the humble one that survived.