10 Lies you Tell Yourself That keeps You from Achieving Success

One thing that keeps us from achieving success is when we tell a lie to ourselves. Most people sabotage their own careers and success by the excuses and lies they keep feeding themselves. When you tell a lie to yourself, you are limiting your strength, your ability to work hard and achieving something in your life. I lack money, I’m too lazy, I don’t have the potential, I don’t have the time, I can’t handle stress are all demotivating factors that reduce your chances of becoming successful and famous. These lies are barriers to your fulfillment and achievement.

Remember Success comes to those who hustle.

“Do not tell a lie. When we deny our own truth, we deny our own potential”

Here are 10 lies you frequently tell yourself to avoid success:

I’LL START TOMORROW

tell a lie

I’m sure you remember the saying, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Today is today and while you’re waiting for the rest of your life, it’s already tomorrow. Unfortunately, a great many people fail to understand the true meaning of the quote and keep pushing their success off for another day.

We don’t realize that it takes the same energy to take the first step as to tell a lie to yourself. If you genuinely want to achieve something in life, don’t waste a day, a minute or a second, create a to-do-list and start right away.

Right down at least 3 goals to accomplish each day and make sure you’ve achieved them by the end of the day.

I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME (TELL A LIE)

tell a lie

This would perhaps be the most common lie we tell to ourselves. Believe it or not, we have more time than we think we do. It’s all about priorities. For some people, success is not the top most priority so they make excuses or tell a lie about it. If you really want to be successful, then make time. Spend less time on social media, spare yourself from unproductive connections, schedule the golf game for next week and most importantly quit procrastinating. Spend your time on productive activities, and keep practicing your skills.

I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS

tell a lie

We understand that you are not born with certain skills or success. It takes a considerable amount of time to reach success in life. With time and over the years you become better at things and increase your chances of achieving your goals. The moment you tell a lie to yourself, that you lack resources, you’re too old for it, you don’t have time etc you’re already preparing yourself for failure. History is full of examples of people who succeeded late in life. Julia Child published her first book at the age of 48. Founder of McDonalds System Inc. Ray Kroc became successful at the age of 52.

Age is just a number. In order to be honored in the list of successful latecomers, all you have to do is visualize your goals. Ask yourself, what do you need to make your goals reality? When do you start? What changes are required?

WHERE DO I START?

tell a lie

Your brain is not linear. It will not tell you where to begin from. You cannot assume you already know the beginning. That’s not how your brain works. Start anywhere you like. Make an investment, read a book or help someone. Most beginners start at their home which is a great initiative. Getting started is mostly the challenging part but once you get through that, it gets easier. With an optimistic personality and a little faith, you can go far.

I DON’T HAVE THE COURAGE

tell a lie

It’s not courage holding you back from moving forward. You are just afraid of failure and scared to take the courageous step. To cover it up, you tell a lie to yourself, that you’re not capable of achieving anything. If you’re a business associate your lack of courage keeps you from facing your employees. Your lack of courage keeps you from expressing yourself in a relationship and you might lose your significant other.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”- Winston Churchill

I’M NOT SMART ENOUGH

tell a lie

You might think all successful people are intelligent and really smart, but what you don’t know is that their IQ accounts only 25% of their success and the remaining 75% of their success consists of hard work, persistence and strong will. You tell a lie to yourself when you say backbenchers are just the jocks and success comes only to the front seaters. Before making the final conclusions, try assessing your networking abilities and your emotional intelligence. A good sense of humor, a charming personality, and strong confidence will beat an MBA graduate any day.

I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY

tell a lie

 

You tell a lie to yourself again; when you think all millionaires had great wealth to start off their careers with.  Spending a lot of money on a certain project just won’t make it successful. Don’t blame money to be the prime source of your failure. Analyze all the other factors that contribute to the success of your project. These might include; goal setting, decision making, team building etc.

In fact, most billionaires had very little money to start their businesses with. However, they were lucky enough to know how to utilize that money resourcefully and make the most of it.

 I FEAR CHANGE

tell a lie

Another fallacy you feed yourself is that you fear change. Not changing can lead to stagnation. You tell a lie to yourself and your supporters when you say, change is not necessary. You are prone to failure if you believe in this fallacy.

The world is changing every second. Opportunities are knocking at your door every minute. If you don’t avail them, your competitors will. Currently, the world is a dynamic corporate business world. Not changing reduces your chances of saving money or making good decisions.

You need to stay updated with the changes in the world, these changes will either make you or break you.

“If you do not change direction, you won’t end up anywhere” – Lao Tzu

 I NEED A LUCKY BREAK

tell a lie

If you believe that you need a lucky break, then let me tell you, your chances are as low as winning the lottery. You tell a lie to yourself and you are deceiving yourself in thinking that all the successful people simply got lucky and did not struggle enough to achieve it.However, the reality is different. It takes courage, nerve, determination and a vision to succeed and make luck work.

I SHALL NEVER FAIL

tell a lie

Failure is a part of the journey. People are scared to fail. They are scared that it will slow down their process of success. You tell a lie every time you think you won’t fail. Let me enlighten you; every entrepreneur has once failed in their life. But the most interesting part is they did not give into failure. They got back up every time they failed and continued to fight for their goals.

Failure is an experience that will teach you many lessons. The founder of Virgin Groups, Richard Branson is familiar with failure. Before succeeding as an entrepreneur he had a list of unsuccessful projects.

Source: Bornrealist.com

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This Is What Successful People Do On Weekends

While a lot of people see the weekend as a time to hang out and relax, exceptionally successful people have a different idea of how Saturdays and Sundays should be spent. Usually, successful people jot down their weekend activities and here is how they spend their weekends to set the tone for a week of productive work:

10. WAKE UP EARLY:

weekend activities

Even on weekends, Apple CEO Tim Cook is said to wake up at 3:45 a.m every morning. You might find it odd because it’s the weekend and you feel that you need to stay in bed until midday. Successful people still get up early because they know time is precious and shouldn’t be wasted, no matter what day it is.

9. READ:

weekend activities

You can’t negate the power of reading. Eimantas Balciunas CEO of Travel Ticker says, “Reading and staying abreast on what happens in the travel industry puts me in a position to discover those things the competition apparently may have ignored.” By reading and expanding your knowledge, even and especially on weekends, you are better informed to approach your tasks for the week.

8. MAKE TIME TO PURSUE THEIR INTERESTS:

weekend activities

Successful people know that chasing success shouldn’t mean they have to forget what they love doing in their spare time. The weekend offers you the opportunity to be creative, whatever it is you like to do most in your free time. Successful people are often interesting people and their hobbies have a lot to do with that. Knitting like Meryl Streep or oil painting like George W. Bush can aid success through fostering creativity and relieving stress.

7. DISCONNECTION:

weekend activities

Successful people know they have to take out downtime where they put away phones and don’t check emails. The weekend is the ideal time to seek a break, go on a mini trip and disconnect with the world.

6. BUILD MOMENTUM:

weekend activities

Successful people don’t settle for average. They are always focused on excellence by keeping up the momentum. The weekend is a good time to put things in perspective and gain clarity to regain and refocus on your goals.

10 THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER LIE ABOUT IN LIFE

5. STAY ACTIVE:

weekend activities

Vogue’s editor in chief likes to play tennis for one hour every day, Richard Branson stays active with kite surfing and India’s fourth richest billionaire is a serial marathon runner. Successful people know the importance of an active body for an active mind on weekends as well.

4. PRIORITIZATION:

weekend activities

Things don’t have to change the world to be important. Weekends are the time to remind yourself of the forgotten little things. Spending time with your friends, children or partner might not directly increase profits that day but that doesn’t make it any less important. Even the current US President famously makes time to sit down for dinner with his family.

3. FORGET FEAR OF MISSING OUT:

weekend activities

On weekends, we’re even more likely to “fear of missing out” (FOMO). But the founder and CEO of Facebook, Zuckerberg says people should be focusing on JOMO (the joy of missing out). The mantra is that there is nowhere I’d rather be than exactly where I am. Successful people are often competitive, high achievers by nature and practice an attitude of gratitude. Successful people know that happiness is the real marker of success.

2. TIME TO REFLECT:

weekend activities

The founder of Microsoft famously said, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” Reflection should be a daily practice but the weekends are a perfect opportunity to step back and reflect on the lessons of the previous week and to make improvements for the next. Make Saturday or Sunday your day to go through the week’s entries.

1. GET READY FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK:

weekend activitiesThe Twitter and Square co-founder is notorious for 16 hour work days from Monday to Friday but he says, “Saturday I take off. I hike. And then Sunday is reflections, feedback, strategy and getting ready for the rest of the week.” Laura Vanderkam, author of what most successful people do on weekends says, successful people know that weekend activities are actually the secret weapon in professional success.

Source: BornRealist.com

Here’s How You Can Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone Right Now

It is very easy to stay where you feel like. Be that as it may, by restricting yourself to what you definitely know, you are likely passing up a major opportunity for proficient open doors and self-improvement. Need to escape your sheltered cover, however, don’t know where to start? The most difficult task is to choose the first step. Here are few ways that can actually help you:

 10. TAKE THE FIRST STEP:

All you need to do is to take an initiative. It will be troublesome but later you will be satisfied. The first day might be annoying but you have to stay consistent. Be that as it may, as you pick up energy, it is simpler to continue moving. Take the initial phase in confidence. You don’t need to see the entire staircase simply take the first step.

9. PUT YOURSELF IN A NEW ENVIRONMENT:

Start with small changes. Don’t take risks. The thought is to put yourself in new fields where you control the communication.

8. DON’T PICK THE SAFE CHOICE:

Whenever you are settling a decision, one decision is the safe and decision. One decision is the awkward decision. The awkward decision is the one that will show you the most and influence you to develop the most, with the goal that is the one you ought to pick.

7. TAKE A DIFFERENT ROUTE HOME:

In the event that you drive or walk an alternate course, you will see diverse things that build your perspective of the world. That is only a simple approach to begin. From that point onward, you can roll out more intense improvements. You will feel relaxed.

90% OF THE PEOPLE FAIL TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. THESE TECHNIQUES WILL HELP YOU BECOME THE TOP 10%

6. MAKE A SNAP DECISION:

It does not need to be a critical choice. Simply settle on a decision that is uncommon for your routine without overthinking it.

5. CONSIDER OTHER POINTS OF VIEW:

Encircle yourself with people who are a bit rude and are unable to help you in numerous things. Make a point to banter about thoughts with them, commonly, which will make you reevaluate your beliefs.

4. SAY “YES” MORE OFTEN:

Say yes notwithstanding when you don’t believe you’re prepared. In the event that you are working, say yes to new undertakings, new assignments, new parts notwithstanding when you have not done it sometime recently. It opens up immense open doors in your profession. Who knows you may wind up getting a charge out of something you never found the opportunity to investigate prior.

3. DO WHAT YOU’RE AFRAID OF:

New outlook. It goes this way: Does this frighten me? At that point, I need to do it. That is the means by which you overcome fear. It never leaves, you simply figure out how to ride that vitality.

2. CREATE CHALLENGES TO PUSH YOURSELF IN AREAS YOU WANT TO IMPROVE:

Choose a couple of difficulties for yourself intended to drive you outside of your customary range of familiarity in territories you need to develop. Next time somebody asks you how you are, react by saying you are incredible rather than simply ‘great’. Simply concentrate on these triggers and don’t come up with any reasons. It will turn into a propensity before long.

1. REMEMBER THAT TOMORROW IS A NEW DAY:

It recalls that what does not kill you will surely make you strong. You will survive for sure. You will master everything in no time.

Source: Bornrealist.com

How Smartphones threaten to power down family relationships

Increased smartphone usage is starting to endanger family relationships. A survey found that the average American parents would rather spend some eight hours a day on their phones than talking with their kids.

Numerous studies have highlighted how pervasive smartphones are among teens, but parents can’t seem to put them down either. According to Common Sense Media, the average American parents spend seven hours and 43 minutes glued to screens every day.

Studies have shown that parents are also more irritable when they are interrupted while on their devices causing some to react harshly to their children. CGTN’s Karina Huber reports that part of the problem is that they can’t ignore the pop-ups on their phones.

Beyond the emotional impact, it’s also taking a toll on their growth. Experts say in the early years, face-to-face interaction is critical, and is the primary way children learn. They say putting a device between parents and the child on a regular basis could hinder them from achieving developmental milestones and could have a lasting impact.

Source: CGTN Global

Mom’s important message to daughter who called her fat

Kids can say hurtful things they don’t mean. But when one woman’s young daughter called her fat, she decided to use it as an opportunity to redefine the term.

Allison Kimmey, an international self-help author and speaker, shared a post on Instagram detailing the conversation she had with her children about using the word fat as an insult.

My daughter called me fat today. She was upset I made them get out of the pool and she told her brother that mama is fat. I told her to meet me upstairs so we could chat. Me: "what did you say about me?" Her: "I said you were fat, mama, im sorry" Me: "let's talk about it. The truth is, I am not fat. No one IS fat. It's not something you can BE. But I do HAVE fat. We ALL have fat. It protects our muscles and our bones and keeps our bodies going by providing us energy. Do you have fat?" Her: "yes! I have some here on my tummy" Me: "that's right! So do I and so does your brother!" Her brother: "I don't have any fat, I'm the skinniest, I just have muscles" Me: "actually everyone, every single person in the world has fat. But each of us has different amounts." Her brother: " oh right! I have some to protect my big muscles! But you have more than me" Me: "Yes, that's true. Some people have a lot, and others don't have very much. But that doesn't mean that one person is better than the other, do you both understand? Both: "yes, mama" Me: "so can you repeat what I said" Them: "yes! I shouldn't say someone is fat because you can't be just fat, but everyone HAS fat and it's okay to have different fat" Me: "exactly right!" Them: "can we go back to the pool now?" Me: no 🤣🤣 __________________ Each moment these topics come up i have to choose how I'm going to handle them. Fat is not a bad word in our house. If I shame my children for saying it then I am proving that it is an insulting word and I continue the stigma that being fat is unworthy, gross, comical and undesirable. Since we don't call people fat as an insult in my household, I have to assume she internalized this idea from somewhere or someone else. Our children are fed ideas from every angle, you have to understand that that WILL happen: at a friends house whose parents have different values, watching a tv show or movie, overhearing someone at school- ideas about body image are already filtering through their minds. It is our job to continue to be the loudest, most accepting, positive and CONSISTENT voice they hear. So that it can rise above the rest. Give me a 🙌🏻 if this resonated w u! Just do you! Xoxo Allie

A post shared by ALLIE 🌸 Just Do You, Babe! (@allisonkimmey) on

“My daughter called me fat today. She was upset I made them get out of the pool and she told her brother that mama is fat,” Kimmey wrote.

After her daughter apologized, Kimmey explained to her children that in her eyes, fat isn’t something a person is but rather something a person has. In fact, everyone has fat, just in different amounts, but that doesn’t define their worth.

OVERWEIGHT MOM LOSES 132 POUNDS, RUNS HALF MARATHON TO INSPIRE DAUGHTER

She goes on to explain how she’s trying to redefine what the word means to her children.

“Each moment these topics come up i have to choose how I’m going to handle them. Fat is not a bad word in our house. If I shame my children for saying it then I am proving that it is an insulting word and I continue the stigma that being fat is unworthy, gross, comical and undesirable,” Kimmey wrote.

Kimmey explains how children are fed ideas about body image from so many different sources, so it’s important as a parent to combat any negative views they might have.

“It is our job to continue to be the loudest, most accepting, positive and CONSISTENT voice they hear. So that it can rise above the rest,” Kimmey wrote.

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Unfortunately, fat shaming often starts at an incredibly young age. According to a new study out of the Netherlands, researchers found that overweight children are being excluded from friendships, which can increase their risk of loneliness, depression, poor eating habits and illness.

Source: FoxNews

Fashion world: Nigeria’s traditional outfits make a comeback

In Nigeria, traditional outfits usually worn by the elderly or on special occasions are making a comeback in West Africa’s fashion capital, Lagos.

Models with Vivian Bennett designs during the African Fashion show in Lagos, on July 2, 2016. /VCG Photo

Traditional wear has made its way back onto runways and fashion houses across the globe, as well as offices and nightclubs.

Nigeria has many types of traditional clothing typically worn by elderly – from the Agbada robes of the Yoruba ethnic group to embroidered collarless shirts associated with the country’s Igbo people.

But in recent years, traditional clothing – or “Trad” as it’s been dubbed – has become a regular sight amongst the Nigerian youth, prompting entrepreneurs to start their own lines of clothing.

From fashionistas to businessmen, Trad is making a serious comeback in Lagos.

With over 250 ethnic groups, Nigeria is able to draw from a huge catalog of fabrics, styles and jewelry. The beautiful looks are a source of pride, which has begun to extend beyond borders.

Trad’s new worldwide prominence is inspiring more Africans to embrace their cultural legacies.

Source: CGTN Africa

The world’s most beautiful language: the people who talk like birds

If you are ever lucky enough to visit the foothills of the Himalayas, you may hear a remarkable duet ringing through the forest. To the untrained ear, it might sound like musicians warming up a strange instrument. In reality, the enchanting melody is the sound of two lovers talking in a secret, whistled language.

Joining just a handful of other communities, the Hmong people can speak in whistles. The sounds normally allow farmers to chat across their fields and hunters to call to each in their forest. But their language is perhaps most beautifully expressed during a now rarely-performed act of courtship, when boys wander through the nearby villages at nightfall, whistling their favourite poems between the houses. If a girl responds, the couple then start a flirty dialogue.

The couple may create their own personal code, adding nonsense syllables to confound eavesdroppers

It’s not just the enticing melodies that make it the perfect language of love. Compared with spoken conversations, it is hard to discern the identity of the couple from their whistles – offering some anonymity to the public exchange. The couple may even create their own personal code, adding nonsense syllables to confound eavesdroppers – a bit like the Pig Latin used by English schoolchildren to fool their parents. “It gives them some intimacy,” says Julien Meyer, at the University of Grenoble, France, who visited the region in the early 2000s.

(Credit: Alamy)
The open valleys of La Gomera offer ideal conditions to carry whistled signals – sometimes as far as 8km (5 miles) (Credit: Alamy)

The practice not only highlights humanity’s amazing linguistic diversity; it may also help us to understand the limits of human communication. In most languages, whistles are used for little more than calling attention; they seem too simple to carry much meaning. But Meyer has now identified more than 70 groups across the world who can use whistles to express themselves with all the flexibility of normal speech.

These mysterious languages demonstrate the brain’s astonishing capacity to decode information from new signals – with insights that are causing some neuroscientists to rethink the fundamental organisation of the brain. The research may even shed light on the emergence of language itself. According to one hypothesis, our first words may have sounded something like the Hmong’s courtship songs.

 

Meyer’s interest in whistled languages began with a 40-year-old Scientific American article about Silbo Gomero – a form of whistled Spanish ‘spoken’ on one of the Canary Islands. The trilled sounds allow shepherds to communicate across deep ravines, and they are apparently so close to the local birdsong that blackbirds have been known to learn and mimic the human dialogues. You can hear a clip above of someone whistling ‘En todo el mundo hay hombres que hablan silbando’, which translates as ‘Around the World, there are humans who whistle their language’. (Clip courtesy of Julien Meyer and Laure Dentel.)

Meyer was instantly fascinated – and ended up completing a PhD on the subject. More than a decade later, he’s still hooked. “I didn’t think that one day it would give me a job,” he says.

Their speech is like no other in the world: it is like the squeaking of bats – Herodotus

Much of Meyer’s research has focused on charting their prevalence around the globe. The ancient history books offered a few pointers. In the 5th Century BC, for instance, the Greek historian Herodotus described a group of cave-dwelling Ethiopians. “Their speech is like no other in the world: it is like the squeaking of bats,” he wrote.  We can’t know for sure which communities he was describing, but Meyer says that several whistled languages can still be heard in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley.

Indeed, Meyer has now identified whistled languages in every corner of the globe. Given that the whistles can travel much further than normal speech – as far as 8km (5 miles) in open conditions – they are most commonly found in mountains, where they help shepherds and farmers to pass messages down the valley.

But the sounds can also penetrate dense forests such as the Amazon, where hunters whistle to locate each other through the dense foliage. “The whistles are good for fighting against reverberation,” says Meyer. And unlike regular speech, they tend not to scare the potential prey. They can also be useful at sea: the Inuit communities of the Bering Strait whistle commands to each other as they hunt for whales.

(Credit: Alamy)

Siberian Yupik hunters use whistles to call out commands as they hunt at sea (Credit: Alamy)

The Australian army recruited Wam speakers to whistle messages across the radio, so that they could not be decoded by the Japanese

Perhaps unsurprisingly, these cryptic languages can also be a weapon of war. Meyer says that the indigenous Berber populations (also known as the Amazigh) in the Atlas Mountains used whistles to pass messages during their resistance against the French. The Australian army, meanwhile, recruited Wam speakers from Papua New Guinea to whistle messages across the radio so that they could confound Japanese eavesdroppers.

And let’s not forget that whistled speech is often used for less prosaic purposes, such as religion, romance and poetry – as the Hmong show so beautifully. Ancient Chinese texts record people whistling Taoist verses – a practice that was thought to send them into a kind of meditative reverie. Meyer has found that Southern China is still a hot spot for many diverse whistling communities among its ethnic minorities, including the Hmong and the Akha.

Clearly, whistled languages are not just the stuff of legend – but a vibrant method of communication for millions of people living today. Yet for the uninitiated, it may seem impossible to imagine the ways that the rising and falling tones could convey meaning.

Meyer has found that they typically rely on one of two strategies – both of which use changes in pitch create a kind of stripped-down skeleton of the spoken language. It all depends on whether normal, everyday speech is “tonal”. In some countries, particularly in Asia, the pitch of a single syllable in a word can change its meaning. As a result, the whistles follow the melodies that are inherent in any spoken sentence. But other languages – such as Spanish or Turkish – are not naturally tonal. In these cases, the whistles instead mimic the changes in resonance that come with different vowel sounds, while the consonants can be discerned by how abruptly the whistles jump and slide from note to note.

(Credit: Alamy)
Berber (also known as Amazigh) people reportedly used to whistle commands to each other during their resistance against the French colonial forces (Credit: Alamy)

We can all decode jumbled messages – yuor biran aumtoacitally flls th gpas

Either way, the whistles lose many of the cues that normally help us to distinguish different words – and outsiders often find it almost impossible to believe they carry intelligible messages. Yet Meyer has found that fluent whistlers can decode the sentences with more than 90% accuracy – around the same intelligibility as speech. Meyer suspects that this relies on the same neural machinery that allows us to hold a conversation in a crowded room, or to make sense of a whispered message. “Our brains are really good at reconstructing words that have been a bit destroyed by noise or other distortions,” says Meyer. We can see the same in written messages, when the letters are all jumbled up or the vowels removed – yuor biran aumtoacitally flls th gpas.

The village of birds

Further studies of this process are causing some neuroscientists to rethink the way the brain is organised.

For decades, researchers had assumed that each side of the brain is highly specialised for particular tasks – with language falling firmly in the left hemisphere.  But Onur Gunturkun at Ruhr University Bochum, in Germany, wanted to find out if the same would be true of whistles. “The way you hear or read the language shouldn’t make a difference,” he says.

To find out, he travelled to Kuskoy – literally, ‘the village of birds’ – which sits in a valley near the Black Sea. Like the people of La Gomera, shepherds whistle messages across the mountain plateau, while fishermen use them to cut through the roar of the river in the valley. Gunturkun still remembers watching a whistled conversation for the first time, as the mayor welcomed him to the village. The experience of hearing something so unlike regular language carry so much meaning “was like magic”, he says. Above you can hear a sound clip of a Kuskoy villager saying “we speak this whistled language”.

A brain scanner would have been too hefty to carry all the way from Germany to this isolated village, so Gunturkun improvised with a simple listening task that involves playing slightly different syllables in each ear and asking the participant to report which one they heard. The experiment centres on a peculiarity of the body’s wiring, which means that each ear feeds into the opposite side of the brain. As a result, the syllable coming in from the right tends to grab our attention, since it is fast-tracked to the dominant left hemisphere. If Gunturkun played “pah” in your left ear, and “tah” in your right ear, for instance, you would hear the “tah” – since it reaches the language processing centres first.

The brain asymmetry was gone – both hemispheres shared the work

At least, that was the theory. Yet this was not what the people of Kuskoy heard when Gunturkun played the whistled syllables. Rather than favouring left or right, they were equally likely to discern whistles from either direction – suggesting that both sides of the brain were being co-opted to make sense of the signals. “The asymmetry was gone,” says Gunturkun. “Both hemispheres shared the work.”

Not only does this demonstrate the brain’s flexibility; the results, published in 2015, might even help people rebuild their lives after a stroke. Damage to the left hemisphere can render someone unable to speak – but Gunturkun’s findings would suggest that they might still be able to shift their processing to the right hemisphere and talk in whistles instead. As he puts it: “There are many ways to Rome”. He emphasises that this was not the primary aim of the research, however. “It was just curiosity – for the sake of understanding the world around us.”

The team’s own experiences show that outsiders can begin to adapt to the ‘bird language’ with regular exposure – provided you know the spoken language first. Gunturkun is fluent in Turkish, and by the end of the trip he had begun to detect the odd whistled word from the locals’ conversations. His experience would seem to support Meyer’s most recent study, which found that people with no prior knowledge of the whistled languages can soon work out which whistles correspond with which vowels; you do not need to have been born in Kuskoy to learn to speak like a bird.

(Credit: Alamy)
Hmong communities may use a mouth harp to replicate the melodies of their whistled languages – again blurring the boundaries between music and speech (Credit: Alamy)

Whistled languages are also of increasing interest to neuroscientists studying one of humanity’s other unique traits – music. Growing evidence suggests that language and music both lean on many of the same brain regions: we tend to process a song’s chord progression using the same circuits that make sense of a sentence’s syntax, for instance. This may explain why music lessons can alleviate some speech or hearing problems. In 2014, a team at Northwestern University in Chicago found that musical training can even improve a child’s literacy.

Whistled languages sit on the border of music and language

Whistled communication – with their entrancing melodies – would appear to naturally exemplify this close link.  “It seems to be on the border of music and language,” says Aniruddh Patel at Tufts University in Massachusetts. The Hmong, for instance, may even play out their poems on a mouth harp instrument. In this case, it is impossible to separate melody and lyrics.

Working out exactly how these languages are processed might therefore offer more precise details about the shared networks, and the ways those brain systems deal with the two types of sound, he says. Tellingly, the right brain hemisphere, which appears to be essential to comprehend the whistled syllables, has long been known to process rhythm and melody – potentially offering one example of the ways that music processing can aid the understanding of language, and vice versa.

Musical protolanguage

Delve even further, and we might begin to understand how those traits arose in pre-history. Music and language both involved extraordinary changes: refined articulation, the capacity to imitate others and the ability think symbolically. But what set it all in motion?

One particularly elegant solution to this conundrum dates back to the father of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin, who proposed that the two traits arose together as a kind of “musical protolanguage”. According to this view, humans first started singing before we could talk – perhaps as a kind of courtship ritual. Like the blackbird’s song, the musical protolanguage would have been a way to show off our virtuosity, forge social bonds, and scare off rivals, without carrying specific meanings. Over time, however, the practice would have pushed us to evolve a finer control of our vocal cords, which then laid the foundations for more meaningful utterances.

(Credit: Alamy)
Orangutans in the wild making a kind of squeaking sound – a signal that may be closer to whistling than speech (Credit: Alamy)

The idea is attractive to some evolutionary biologists, since it suggests a series of small steps, rather than a giant leap, for humankind’s journey to language. But given the cultures of people like the Akha and the Hmong, might that first protolanguage have been whistled, rather than sung?

“Perhaps whistling was part of the dynamic that pushed humans to adapt their communication to something more elaborate,” says Meyer, who outlined his hypothesis in a recent monograph on whistled speech.

Whistling may have been the ideal stepping stone to language as our ancestors found their voices

Meyer points out that although other primates cannot learn to speak like humans, some have mastered whistling. Bonnie, an orangutan at the US National Zoo in Washington DC was able to mimic the simple tunes of her keeper Erin Stromberg, and orangutans in the wild have even been known to make a high-pitched squeak by sucking air through a leaf. Such displays suggest that whistling may have required fewer adaptions than voiced speech, making it the ideal stepping stone to language.

If so, whistled signals could have begun as a musical protolanguage, and as they became more complex and imbued with meaning, they could have also helped coordinate hunting and foraging. After all, Meyer’s research certainly suggests that whistling is ideal for communicating over distance and avoiding the attention of predators and prey – advantages that would have helped our ancestors’ survival. Later on, we could have gained control of our vocal chords too, but the whistled languages continued to be a small but crucial element of humanity’s overall repertoire.

The idea is not yet the scientific consensus. But if it is correct, it would mean that those enchanting melodies of the Hmong may be the closest we will ever come to hearing the sounds of humanity’s first words. As modernisation rapidly encroaches on those remote communities, we will need to move quickly to capture these languages, before those echoes from the past are lost forever.

Source: BBC