Julien Meyer

2006 Associate Laureate, Cultural Heritage


Project Goal

Revive whistled and drummed languages from remote areas

Location: France

French bio-acoustician and linguist Julien Meyer is cataloging whistled and drummed languages, seeking to preserve the fast-disappearing heritage.

Long fascinated by the adaptability of language communication, French bio-acoustician and linguist Julien Meyer carried out a worldwide survey on whistled languages in 2003-2004. What was a hobby led to a Ph.D. in cognitive sciences and linguistics at the University of Lyon, and to the project that won him a Rolex Award in 2006 — preserving the fast-disappearing heritage of whistled and drummed languages.

With the help of the Award, Meyer created the World Whistles Research Association and began documenting and recording the languages via an interactive Internet site. As a result of the inter-cultural collaboration, articles about the work have appeared in scientific journals.

Specifically, Meyer’s four main local-language revival initiatives have taken place in Vanuatu, Thailand (Akhas), Mexico (Mazatecs) and the Colombian Amazon (Miranas).

Now taking up a position as an associate researcher at the linguistic division of the Museu Goeldi in Brazil, Meyer will be working on two Brazilian Amazon languages.

Other 2006 Associate Laureates