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A Unique Translation of My Parable into the Whistling Language of Canary Islands

October 1, 2014

My parable “Welcome to the Machine” (included below) has been translated into the unique whistling language Silbo Gomero .

Silbo Gomero or Gomeran whistle is a traditional language spoken by inhabitants of La Gomera in the Canary Islands to communicate across the deep ravines and narrow valleys. Gomeran whistle works by retaining approximately the articulation of ordinary speech. The language is a whistled form of a dialect of Spanish.

I believe this language is mainly used for short messages about daily issues, and so this might well be one of the very first translations of fictional stories into this language. It is my hope that this would be but the very first step, so that one day classic works of literature such as “War and Peace”, translated into the Gomeran whistle, would resound across the green and pleasant land of La Gomera island. 

You can listen to the translation here:

Javier Fuentes, who resides on Canary Islands and without whose kind help (as well as the help of “Cultural and Research Association on Canary Whistle” and the whistler  Guillermo Molina) none of this would have been possible, has posted an article about the translation of my story on his blog. You can also find there further info about and recordings of the Gomeran whistle. (The article is both in Spanish and English.)

Welcome to the Machine

A young man, in the full flower of his youth, comes across very lengthy, complicated and intricate instructions on how to construct an apparatus of some kind. He becomes intrigued and then obsessed by these instructions and devotes all of his hours to the building of this machine, of whose function and purpose he is completely ignorant and wants desperately to find out.

Years go by, as he painstakingly follows each step of the seemingly endless instructions, but he is not concerned at all by the passing of time, so dedicated is he to his task. And in any case, he is convinced that once the machine is completed, all of the work and the time he had spent on it will be retrospectively justified and his actions will gain the meaning that they presently lack.

And so, decades after beginning the construction, the last component is ready to be put into its place. All that is needed to do is to fasten it with the last bolt and the apparatus will be complete. As he is doing so, he realises he has become an old man and that he is now living out the final moments of his life. As his vision grows dim, he sees for the very first time that the apparatus he has spent all of his life building is a coffin and that nothing remains for him to do but to place himself in it for all eternity.


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  1. I love the ending.

    • thank you for taking a look at it Pam. Did the ending come to you as a surprise? Pity you are not able to listen to the whistled version of this story! btw, do you have any thoughts about what this parable means? I am still trying to decipher its meaning myself!

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