We have launched a new and improved site www.andamanese.org       

CLICK HERE for new site       

This site will retire by Spetember 2023.        

Home        About the VOGA       Language Analysis       GA People       Narration       Dictionary       Ethnobiology


  Language Graph

  Grammar Note

  Sociolinguistics Info

  First book of Letters

  Indigenous Knowledge


  Research Findings



  Photo Gallery


  Publications by Anvita Abbi

  Curriculum Vitae

  A public talk at Simon Fraser University (SFU)

  Fieldwork and elicitation of data

  Article on Languages of India and India as a Linguistic Area

andamanese varnamaala

3-way-map of Andaman



Glimpses of a Pre-Neolithic Civilization : The Great Andamanese

Vanishing Voices of the Great Andamanese was a Major Documentation Project directed by Prof. Anvita Abbi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. It was funded and supported by the SOAS, UK under the ELDP program. Readers may view VOGA DATA ARCHIVE and the ongoing research under this project as well as on other tribes of the Andaman in the following pages.

One of the most significant outputs of the VOGA project has been a book on Birds of the Great Andamanese: Names, Classification and Culture.

It is generally believed that all Andamanese languages might be the last representative of those languages whose history goes back to pre-Neolithic times in Southeast Asia and possibly the first settlement of the region by modern humans. These isolated Andamanese languages that are spoken by the descendents of the aboriginal population of Southeast Asia are, at present, ‘very critical’ stage (see Map 1).

Living Andamanese tribes can be grouped into four major groups, i.e. the Great Andamanese, the Jarawa, the Onge and the Sentinelese (Map 2). Barring Sentinelese, other tribes have come into contact with the mainlanders. Their history of contact varies from tribe to tribe, chronologically, the first one to come into contact with the mainlanders were the Great Andamanese followed by the Onge and finally the Jarawa. All attempts to establish contact with Sentinelese have failed so far.

Tribals in general have shown better resilience than the non-tribals in facing the Tsunami havoc. The Great Andamanese, who are 50 in number, live in Strait Island, 53 nautical miles away from Port Blair as well as in the city of Port Blair. The Jarawa, approximately 250 in number, live in the thick forests of the Middle Andaman, were totally isolated from the outside world till very late. Onge, who lived in two separate reserves in Little Andaman, i.e. Hut Bay and Dugong Creek (Map 3), have recently moved further interior to the forest after Tsunami killer waves attacked the Island. The fourth, a totally obscure and isolated tribe is Sentinalese who live in Sentinel Island. No human contact has been established with this tribe so far as they resist all outside intervention. For details refer to my book entitled Endangered Languages of the Andaman Islands. 2006. Munich, Lincom-Gmbh.

Great Andamanese had a good knowledge of the area and they had given names to different parts of the Islands in their indigenous languages. Original Great Andamanese place names and the map can be seen by the users of this website.


Anvita Abbi
E mail: anvitaabbi@gmail.com

Click for a Short CV


Boa Sr.


Noa Jr.



professional logo
Website has been designed and developed by Ritu Jha