Whistle Speakers of the Chinantec Language

whistle-language

While it’s only anecdotal, I can say in my own experience I’ve noticed the Latin Americans I know use whistling a lot more than any other group. There are whistles to get people’s attention, whistles of appreciation, and whistles the equivalent of cursing someone out, just to name a few. And Carlos, for example, is able to whistle through his lips, through his teeth, or with his first two fingers in his mouth to produce different pitches and tones.

Over the years I’ve recognized the usefulness of these whistles to get each other’s attention in crowds where shouting might be too harsh. Sometimes when we grocery shop and Carlos goes off to get an item, I’ll have moved on to another aisle before he gets back. I can see him from a distance looking around for me, but he doesn’t see me – so I whistle, and just like that, he’s able to locate me. It’s interesting to note that just like one’s voice is unique, so too is their whistle. Carlos has whistled in a crowd and instantly I knew it was him because of the tone, just as if he had called my name.

So, when I learned that there are actual whistled languages, I was fascinated, but not surprised. Whistle languages can be found around the world, and many exist or existed in Latin America. In the foggy, mountainous terrain of San Pedro Sochiapam in Oaxaca, Mexico, the male speakers of Chinantec speak a whistled version of the language.

The sad thing about this language, like many indigenous languages, is that it’s in danger of dying. While women understand it, and some children speak a little of it, most of the people of the town don’t use the language like the older generation did. Reasons for declining use of whistled Chinantec range from the fact that children learn Spanish in school and they don’t work in the fields, to advancements in technology such as walkie talkies, megaphones, and telephones. According to Dr. Mark Sicoli, Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University, the whistled language “may be gone from this community within ten years.”

Watch this interesting and beautiful episode of “In the Americas with David Yetman” called “Chiflidos en la neblina” [Whistles in the mist] to learn more about the whistle speakers of the Chinantec language in Oaxaca, Mexico.

And here’s another, shorter video on the same town which ends on a happier note, as it seems some of the younger generation have taken it upon themselves to not only learn the language and use it, but are planning to teach it to others.

Related Links

Other episodes of In The Americas with David Yetman are just as great. The website is here, which includes video highlights of each season.

Hat tip: OpenCulture.com

Learn more about other whistled languages on Wikipedia

In a Remote Mexican Town People Can Communicate by Whistling on Fusion.net

Ancestry DNA: Part 4

carlos-2016

In Part 1 and Part 2, I took you through the process and results of my own DNA test with Ancestry.com – Now it’s Carlos’s turn! Check out Part 3 for Carlos’s thoughts before taking the test. Part 4 (this final post) is Carlos’s results!

Carlos’s results are in! His took much longer to arrive, (40 days compared to the 22 days I waited.) Maybe the Ancestry DNA test has become more popular since I did mine. At first I thought maybe it was taking so long because we did it around Saint Patrick’s Day and you tend to see a lot of their commercials encouraging people to see if they have Irish ancestry around that time of year, but that can’t be it, because I also did mine around Saint Patrick’s Day last year. While we were waiting for the results, Carlos joked that it was taking so long because they discovered he’s el eslabón perdido (“the missing link”) and they were busy gathering researchers from around the world, which was a very Carlos-ish joke to make.

Anyway, I won’t keep you in more suspense than is necessary. Let’s get to the results!

When I asked Carlos if he had any predictions, he had answered, “Maybe that I’m mostly indigenous” – And it turns out he was correct! Carlos is 57% Native American. It’s just a shame that Ancestry DNA can’t go into more detail than that.

native

We can assume this is most likely Central American tribes descended from the Mayan and/or Aztec, but we really have no way of knowing for sure.

Carlos also got 27% Europe. Unsurprisingly the majority of that (16%) is from the Iberian Peninsula.

iberian-peninsula

What about the rest of that 27% though? That’s where we start getting some interesting results.

4% Italy/Greece
3% Great Britain
2% European Jewish
2% Ireland

This means Carlos and I have some ancestry in common! (It also means I can no longer pinch him on Saint Patrick’s Day for not being Irish.)

italy-greece

great-britain

European-Jewish

Ireland

We’ve got 16% left, any guesses before we go on?

Well, here’s some more surprises. Carlos is 12% African.

The breakdown is:

North Africa 5%
Senegal 2%
Mali 2%
Ivory Coast/Ghana 2%
Africa Southeastern Bantu 1%

And here are the maps with more detailed information on those:

africa-north

senegal

mali

ivory-coast-ghana

africa-bantu

Now we have just 4% left, and that is broken down as:

Caucausus 3%
Middle East < 1%

caucasus

middle-east

That’s it! Here’s a picture of the full breakdown (including expanded trace regions) and the world map showing all his ancestral areas:

carlos-regions-expanded

carlos-dna-map

A few last questions with Carlos:

Tracy: Which result surprised you the most?
Carlos: Jewish and Irish.

Tracy: Has this changed anything for you? How you see yourself? How you see the world?
Carlos: I don’t know yet. I’m still kind of processing it.

Tracy: Was there anything you were disappointed not to see?
Carlos: Well, I’m not disappointed, but I’m surprised that I’m not East Asian at all. I was kind of expecting I would be because of the way my [paternal] grandmother looked. I also wish the technology was advanced enough to give me more detail about the Native American result.

Tracy: What is your advice to other people considering doing the Ancestry DNA test?
Carlos: I recommend it, they should do it.

Ancestry DNA: Part 3

Image source: Flickr user charamelody

Image source: Flickr user charamelody

In Part 1 and Part 2, I took you through the process and results of my own DNA test with Ancestry.com – Now it’s Carlos’s turn!

Around this time last year I asked Carlos if I could order the DNA test for my birthday present. Ever since then Carlos has been wanting to do his own DNA test, but has always balked at spending the money on it. I decided that since my birthday is coming up again, this year my present will be Carlos’s test. You may wonder how something for Carlos is a birthday gift for me, but I’m just as curious about his results as he is, and I can think of few things I want that would be this much fun. So we ordered the test today. Below is my interview with Carlos to see how he’s feeling and his thoughts on the topic. Because I already covered the “how to” of the DNA test in Part 1 when I did mine, we’ll skip discussing the technical aspect of Carlos’s test. Part 4 will be posted when we receive his results!

Tracy: How are you feeling about the DNA test? Nervous? Anxious? Excited?

Carlos: I’m not really nervous, more curious than anything else.

Tracy: What do you think you’ll find out? Any predictions?

Carlos: No, I’m not sure. No idea. Maybe that I’m mostly indigenous?

Tracy: Why do you say that? Did anyone in your family speak an indigenous language or anything?

Carlos: I don’t know, because of my skin color, I guess. No one in my family spoke Náhuat that I know of, I don’t know if older generations spoke it.

Tracy: What do you already know, or think you know, about your roots? What family stories, recipes, or traditions did you have growing up that offer clues to your ancestry?

Carlos: I don’t have any clues. My family didn’t pass down traditions the way people do here [in the United States]… I mean, my family’s traditions were like everyone’s traditions – just Salvadoran traditions, Salvadoran culture.

Tracy: Were both sides of your family Catholic?

Carlos: Yes, as far as I know.

Tracy: Who are the oldest relatives you remember, and what do you remember about them?

Carlos: My mom says some of her father’s side of the family was light-skinned, but for my dad I don’t really know anything. My dad looked more Japanese than anything, and his mother looked Asian too.

Tracy: Your mother’s side of the family, as far back as you know, was from Chalatenango and your father’s side was from Ilobasco, right?

Carlos: Right, as far as I know. I don’t know any family history farther than that.

Tracy: Wait, you told me a story once about one of your family members in Europe, didn’t you? Who was that? Was she born in Europe?

Carlos: Oh, that was one of my [maternal] grandfather’s grandmother’s sisters…I think. She was born in El Salvador but she learned French and went to be a nanny in France. During World War II they had to flee and the family got separated. She took the child up to the mountains and kept him safe. When the family was reunited they were so thankful that they took care of her the rest of her life.

Tracy: She stayed in France and died there?

Carlos: No, she came back to El Salvador but they sent her money the rest of her life… Something like that. I’m never sure about these stories.

Tracy: Anyway, you said she was born in El Salvador, so that wouldn’t make you French.

Carlos: No.

Tracy: What if you get a really unexpected result? Do you think you’ll want to explore that culture and your roots a bit more?

Carlos: Yes, definitely.

Tracy: When I got my results I shared them with my sisters so they would know more about their heritage, but you don’t have any full-blooded brothers or sisters; all your siblings are half-siblings. Do you think you’ll share your results with any of them even though they won’t know what parts of your ancestry results are also theirs?

Carlos: No, it’s more for me to know, and for our boys to know the other half of their heritage.

Día de Los Muertos – book giveaway!

Dia de los Muertos book

It’s Día de Los Muertos, the sun’s coming round,
as niños prepare in each pueblo and town.
For today we will honor our dearly departed
with celebraciones – it’s time to get started!

So begins the fun, rhyming picture book, DIA DE LOS MUERTOS by Roseanne Greenfield Thong illustrated by Carles Ballesteros. I loved everything about this book, from the way it’s written in Spanglish which helps teach vocabulary related to the holiday, (a glossary is included) – to the colorful illustrations.

I think you guys will love this book too, so I’m excited to be able to offer one for giveaway. See details to enter below!

—GIVEAWAY CLOSED—

Giveaway Details

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a copy of the book DIA DE LOS MUERTOS by Roseanne Greenfield Thong illustrated by Carles Ballesteros.

How to enter: Just leave a comment below telling me what you’re favorite part of Día de los Muertos is! (Please read official rules below before entering.)

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the person responsible for prize fulfillment for that purpose. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between October 28, 2015 through November 2nd, 2015. Entries received after November 2nd, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!

Pan de Muerto

pan de muerto

Día de los Muertos is only days away. Where did the month of October go? I haven’t done half of the things I love to do this time of year, but I have gotten my altar set up. I just have a few more things I need to add to the ofrenda to make it complete. Have you started setting up yours? Do you usually include a pan de muerto? I’ve actually never made pan de muerto but NESTLÉ® contacted me with this recipe this week so I think I might give it a go. Here it is if you decide to make one too!

La Lechera Day of the Dead Bread (Pan de Muerto)

Ingredients:

FOR THE BREAD

4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus additional, divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon anise seeds
1 teaspoon salt
2 packets (1/4 oz. each) rapid-rising dry yeast
2/3 cup (5 fl. oz. can) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs, slightly beaten

FOR THE GLAZE

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
Granulated or coarse ground sugar

Directions for bread:

1. COMBINE 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, anise seeds, salt and yeast in large mixer bowl.

2. HEAT evaporated milk, water and butter over low heat in medium saucepan until mixture reaches 115 to 120 F. and butter is melted. (If too hot, let it cool a bit before adding to dry ingredients.)

3. MAKE a well in the center of the flour mixture; pour in milk mixture. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until blended.

4. ADD eggs and 1 1/2 cups flour; mix well. Gradually add remaining 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups flour (1/2 cup at a time) mixing well after each addition until dough is smooth but not sticky (You may not need all the flour).

5. PLACE dough on lightly floured surface; knead 10 to 15 minutes or until dough is moderately stiff, smooth and elastic. Additional flour may be needed to help prevent sticking.

6. PLACE dough in large greased bowl; turn over. Cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature for 60 to 75 minutes or until doubled in size.

7. PUNCH dough down.

8. CUT dough into 4 equal portions to make 3 “loaves” and 1 for decorations.

9. SHAPE 3 of the portions into round loaves on lightly floured surface, kneading as necessary. Place on greased baking sheet(s). Keep all dough portions covered with greased plastic wrap to prevent drying of dough.

10. SHAPE remaining dough portion into 3 small balls, tears, braids and/or bones.

11. TO DECORATE, place 1 small ball on top of round loaf, surrounding each ball with the remaining decorations. To adhere shapes to dough, gently score decorations, as well as areas on each loaf that decorations will be attached to. Adhere with dabs of water.

12. LOOSELY COVER with greased plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature for another 30 minutes or until nearly doubled.

13. PREHEAT oven to 350 F. BAKE loaves for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare glaze.

Directions for glaze:

1. COMBINE 1/2 cup sugar and orange juice in small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until syrup is formed, about 5 minutes. (Mixture may bubble up; remove from heat if it does, stir and then return to heat.) Remove from heat.

Final touches:

1. BRUSH loaves with syrup.

2. SPRINKLE with sugar; return to oven. Continue baking for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

3. TIP: Sprinkle colored sugar on loaves.

This recipe has been published here with permission from NESTLÉ®. This is not a sponsored post. No compensation was received for sharing this recipe. Recipe and photo property of NESTLÉ®.

Tartaletas

tartaleta salvadorena

There are precious few TV shows Carlos and I can agree on, but lately we’ve been able to add one more to our “watch together” list. I was the first to start watching The Great British Baking Show on PBS, but one day Carlos sat down next to me and started watching too. The Great British Baking Show is a reality show competition, but unlike similar American programs, the contestants are utterly charming and supportive of each other, which is something both Carlos and I love about it.

One episode we watched together involved the contestants making tarts. I don’t know much about tarts, British, or otherwise, but Carlos became nostalgic.

“I love tarts,” he said.
“When have you ever had a tart?” I asked, because I’d never seen him eat one our entire marriage.

That’s when he told me that in El Salvador, Pollo Campero, (the popular fried chicken restaurant), had “tartaletas” – specifically, tartaletas de fresa, or strawberry tarts. I asked him as many questions as I could about what they were like and decided to try to make them. After some trial and error, I ended up with the recipe below.

Since I’ve never had a tartaleta from Pollo Campero, I can’t tell you if these taste the same, and Carlos hasn’t had one for over 20 years, so all he could tell me was that he loved how these turned out. That’s good enough for me. If you want to give them a try, let me know what you think!

Vanilla Custard (for tartaleta filling)

Ingredients:

6 rounded tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups 2% milk
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. In a blender add milk, sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch. Blend for 15 to 30 seconds until well combined.

2. Pour the mixture into a large pot over medium heat. Add vanilla extract.

3. Stir regularly until the mixture thickens. Don’t be too quick to remove it from the stove. You want it to be the texture of pudding. After 5 minutes, if it isn’t thickening, turn the heat up a little and stir a little less regularly, but be careful not to let it cook to the bottom of the pot or you’ll have lumps in the custard.

4. Remove from heat. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to assemble the tarts.

Note: This recipe makes far more custard than you’ll need for the tarts. Feel free to eat the leftovers served up in bowls plain or with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Alternatively, you could halve the custard recipe so you don’t have so much left over.

Dessert Tart Crust

Ingredients:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar, (plus a few pinches)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups pre-sifted all purpose flour

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 F.

2. Mix butter, 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, and vanilla extract until well combined.

3. Mix in flour just until dough comes together.

4. Divide dough into four equal portions. Place each portion in a 4-inch round tart pan. Use fingers dipped in flour to press the dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of the tart pans. Don’t handle the dough any more than necessary.

Tip: I purchased Wilson Advance 4-inch tart and quiche pans and really love them. If you don’t own a set, I highly recommend these.

5. Place each tart pan in its own sandwich-size plastic zipper bag, and place them into the freezer for 10 minutes to chill.

6. Remove each tart from the plastic bags. Place the tarts on a baking sheet and then place them in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 10 minutes.

Tip: Use the back of a spoon to carefully deflate any bubbles that pop up during baking.

7. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on each tart crust and bake for another 5-7 minutes, or until edges start to turn golden brown.

8. Remove from oven and cool completely.

9. Don’t assemble the tartaletas until ready to serve, (or if you assemble them and put them in the fridge, plan to serve them soon.) When ready to serve the tartaletas, assemble like so:

Carefully remove each tart crust from its pan, and place onto a small plate. Spoon an even layer of custard filling onto each tart crust. Top with sliced strawberries, or other fruit of your choosing. (Other suggestions: raspberries, blackberries, peaches, blueberries, and/or kiwi.)

Makes four 4-inch round tarts.

Tart crust recipe adapted from Chowhound.com.

tartaleta de fresa

Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 Round-up

Photographer: Jorge Quinteros

Photographer: Jorge Quinteros

As most of you are aware, September 15th to October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month, and that means plenty of great new content to check out around the internet related to latinidad, Latin American culture, Latino history and heroes, and the Latino experience here in the United States. Here I’m going to share links to some of my favorite Hispanic Heritage Month content. Feel free to check back as I may update it within the next week or two.

● The “Our Latino Heritage” series on NBC News Latino.

● The “Habla” series on HBO. (Some of the videos available on YouTube too.)

● “The Latino Americans” series (as well as other great documentaries) on PBS.

● Instagram And Voto Latino’s #HispanicHeritageHero Celebrates Latino Leaders on BuzzFeed.

● Multicultural Kid Blogs Hispanic Heritage Month series and giveaway – (Tons of great links there.)

● Test Yourself! Take Our First 2015 Hispanic Heritage Month Quiz via NBC Latino.

When Hispanic Heritage Month Is a Time to Grieve via HuffPost Latino Voices.

Kids activities, printables, and links for Hispanic Heritage Month from Modern Mami.

Archive of Hispanic literature on tape via The Library of Congress.

Hispanic Heritage virtual tour via The Smithsonian.

How do you feel about Hispanic Heritage Month? on NPR’s Latino USA.

● Hispanic News Online’s Hispanic Heritage Month podcast series featuring a different Latino/a each day.

How to Celebrate Hispandering Heritage Month via Latino Rebels.

5 Must-Listen Podcasts for Latinos via latinamom.me.

Donate to an organization that benefits Latinos and/or Latin Americans.