The sound of words, the voice of sounds
A farmer's daily life was tightly interwoven with that of his oxen. Mutual communication was indispensable to a harmonious working companionship and in it all the senses played their role: the taste, the smell, the touch and the sense of hearing. The paper focuses on the latter, dealing with the sound of words – the intangible tool of human voice – calling the oxen by their names, giving commands and singing songs; it also deals with two other sounds applied in communicating with oxen – the voice of human whistling and the sound of cracking of a whip. The findings of the paper are based in particular on oral testimonies and ethnographic observation (as well as on relevant sources and literature), recorded in 2001 and 2003–07 as part of feld research carried out in selected locations in four slovenian ethnological regions. They are relevant to the decades between the two World Wars, to the third quarter of the 20th century and, in few cases (rare farms with “active” ox teams), to the present.